Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program: 3 Things to Know

18 Sep

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is a program that was enacted to encourage people to come forward and report foreign income or assets that they had previously been illegally sheltering. The idea behind the program is that, by offering minor, non-criminal penalties (as opposed to the much stiffer penalties one would normally face in this situation), more people will come forward, pay the taxes they owe, and operate more scrupulously going forward. If you’ve made the decision to shelter offshore assets, and would now like to come clean, but fear legal repercussions, the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program ( ) is likely a good fit for you. Before you submit to the program, here are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s a Lot of Work

Although the outcome is worth it, the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program takes a great deal of effort, and it can be months or even years before your submission is completed and accepted and you’re in the clear. You will be required to submit a seemingly endless amount of paperwork, reports, statements, and information on your finances, and you will have to file or amend up to eight years worth of tax returns. The process might seem gruelling at times, and the thought of the work involved may make you second-guess your decision. However, rather than being deterred by the work involved, it’s better to make a plan and find the support you need to properly engage in the process. Once it’s over, you’ll be happy you went through with it.

Avoiding Prosecution Isn’t a 100% Guarantee

Although the purpose of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is to give individuals who committed financial ( ) indiscretions a means of avoiding prosecution if they come forward, it’s actually not a 100% guarantee. While it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll get into any kind of legal trouble, it’s important that you use the program as intended, or you could be putting yourself at risk. Essentially, this means that you must make a full disclosure. If you make a partial disclosure, you can still find yourself in trouble once the undisclosed amounts are discovered.

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program also does not cover assets that were acquired through illegal means; if you were sheltering money that you obtained through legal work or investments, you’re fine, but if you disclose the sheltering of money you obtained through organized crime, laundering, or other illegal means, the program will not protect you, so it’s best to contact a lawyer to discuss other means for disclosure.

It’s Intended for Those Who Knew They Were Doing Wrong

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure program is intended for people who deliberately failed to disclose foreign income or assets and were directly responsible for what they were doing. If your assets were hidden by an accountant whom you trusted, without your knowledge of the situation, you may not be legally at fault, so the program isn’t for you. If you discover that someone lied about disclosing assets on your behalf, the best way forward is to contact law enforcement for assistance.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Tax


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