U.S. Issues Warning Against Offshore Bank Account Holders

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. has issued stern warning to those having offshore bank accounts and evading paying their taxes in the country.

Encouraged by the success of its actions against those holding bank accounts in Switzerland and India to evade taxes, a senior Justice Department official had said that time is fast running out for such people as the U.S. is expanding its operations against tax evaders.

“If there’s one message I want to get out there on the offshore bank accounts issue, it is that time is running out, and anyone who is still waiting should come forward, Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division at the Department of Justice said.

She further said that “if anyone is waiting for there to be a news announcement that makes them think, oh, they’re finally on to my country and now I should report, by that time it may be too late”.

Responding to questions, Keneally said unlike in the past, the U.S. has a lot of resources available now, both the Tax Division and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“One observation I’ve made before is I think that people who are out there look at what happened in 2009 and expect something like an announcement about a deferred prosecution agreement or a high- profile prosecution,” she said.

“What is happening now is that we are getting information from many different kinds of sources. We are getting information through the voluntary disclosure programme,” the Treasury official said.

She added that over 38,000 people came forward and described what they did with their offshore bank accounts, and there is a wealth of information in those disclosures.

“Both we and the IRS are using that information to expand outwards. We have whistle-blower activity. We have information that we’re getting through the course of our investigations and cooperation that we’re getting. Information is coming from a variety of sources, and it really is extensive at this point,” the official said.

According to a 2008 Senate report, the use of secret offshore accounts to evade U.S. taxes costs the Treasury at least $100 billion annually.