Under certain circumstances, the IRS and SEC/CFTC whistleblower programs allow whistleblowers to proceed without an attorney. However, beacuse there are important considerations when deciding how to proceed, it is advisable to contact an experienced whistleblower attorney.
Off-shore activity is commonly engaged in by U.S. citizens as part of our global economy. There are many instances where off-shore accounts are being used legitimately, enabling a corporation to do business overseas:
Though off-shore financial activity is legal, U.S. citizens and corporations are still legally required to pay taxes on income and assets in off-shore accounts in accordance with U.S. tax laws. Failure to do so may result in both civil and criminal penalties.
A Means to Hide Assets from the Government
Often, individuals and corporations will use off-shore accounts to illegally hide income streams and assets from the U.S. government in an effort to avoid taxation. Many foreign jurisdictions offer financial secrecy to attract investors that live in other countries. These jurisdictions are considered “tax havens” due to the fact that they provide financial secrecy and require little or no taxation of income earned outside their jurisdiction.
Types of Off-Shore Schemes
Abusive Off-Shore Schemes
Promoters of abusive off-shore schemes rely on the difficulty of access to the records of tax haven banks, attorneys, and trustees to avoid paying taxes on assets and income. Structures are often created that give the appearance that a foreign entity owns the assets, when a U.S. taxpayer is the actual owner. In many instances, records for these off-shore accounts are falsified or fabricated to accomplish this goal.
Taxpayers may exploit a variety of methods to cover up transfers of money or property to a foreign entity in order to hide the assets. Examples include:
To get the title to a property as well as its future earnings off-shore, taxpayers sometimes fabricate a sale of the property to a foreign entity in their control. Once assets or title to a property have been moved offshore, sophisticated communication methods and fund transfers are then used to enable the taxpayer to manage the assets. Tax haven banks, trust companies, attorneys, and accountants can often create false documents intended to create a paper trail to confuse auditors.
Many schemes are designed with the intention of helping taxpayers hide the repatriation of funds moved off-shore in order to avoid taxation. Common methods of repatriating funds include: