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IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program: 2009 Participation by State and Location of Foreign Bank Accounts

GAO-14-265R Published: Jan 06, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 2014.
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What GAO Found

We reported the number of 2008 tax returns by state for IRS's 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) participants. OVPD offered incentives for taxpayers to disclose their offshore accounts and pay delinquent taxes, interest and penalties. Generally, the program offered somewhat reduced penalties and no risk of criminal prosecution, if eligible taxpayers fully disclosed their previously unreported offshore accounts, and paid taxes due plus interest. To safeguard taxpayer identifies, we suppressed the totals for any state with fewer than 10 OVDP participants.

We reported 12,889 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account (FBARs) forms that were filed for 2008 by participants in the 2009 OVDP. Consistent with IRS's enforcement efforts and the design of the 2009 OVDP, we found that the population of participants was more likely to report offshore accounts in Switzerland than in other locations. Note that each FBAR could report multiple financial accounts and multiple financial institution mailing addresses. In our review of a sample of 2009 OVDP case files, we found that some participants disclosed dozens of offshore accounts with multiple banks and with multiple countries; in other cases, participants disclosed only one account. To safeguard taxpayer identifies, we do not report the names of any country or territory that appeared 10 or fewer times.

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO did this study in response to a request form the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Specifically, we were asked to provide supplemental information to our March 2013 report on IRS's OVDP. See, GAO, Offshore Tax Evasion: IRS Has Collected Billions of Dollars, but May be Missing Continued Evasion, GAO-13-318 (Washington, D.C.: March 27, 2013) for our report.

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