A few years ago the IRS offered a tax amnesty program for US citizens who failed to declare assets held in foreign bank accounts. This came on the heels of a highly publicized legal action against UBS. The IRS forced the Swiss based bank to turn over the account information of US citizens. The IRS was clamping down on tax evaders, exploiting the protection of Switzerland's bank secrecy laws to hide income and assets. The IRS was looking to determine if FBARs had been filed by the banks American clients.
Individuals and corporations with assets greater then $10,000 held in foreign bank accounts must file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) with the IRS or face potential legal action.
UBS counted 52,000 US citizens as private banking clients. It would be safe to assume that most of those accounts had balances greater then the $10,000 declaration threshold.
Any US investor participating in a foreign based fund partnership or investment vehicle must also file an FBAR. High Net Worth (HNW) investors and their tax advisers should conduct due diligence on private bankers and asset managers to confirm that FBARs and appropriate declarations and forms have been filed by investment partnerships and their administrators. HNW tax advisers should contact the chief compliance officer at the fund to request an attestation letter stating that the fund is in full compliance with foreign bank reporting requirements.
Bernie Madoff and Sir Allen Stanford may look good in orange prison jumpsuits but that doesn't mean it will look good on you. Don't become a slave to fashion. Get compliant. Check with your tax adviser to make sure FBARs are filed.
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Risk: AML, FBAR, legal, compliance, tax, reputation, criminal prosecution, IRS, OECD, Patriot Act, MSB, private banking, hedge funds, CPA, UBS, Credit Unions, SAR filing, BSA Reporting