They’re Coming Out of the Closet

27 Feb

It’s like the proverbial closet filled with mementos, trinkets, and old junk in addition to clothes not worn for years. And when it is opened, everything literally pours out. Today in Accounting Today for the Web CPA, there are three articles about Americans (no doubt continental america based citizens and NOT expats) and their previously hidden habit of hoarding their dollars in Swiss bank accounts so as to avoid paying taxes on their oft ill gotten millions.

The first article entitled, Credit Suisse Hearing Likely to Drive New Taxpayer Confessions implies that the ongoing Senate hearings about the IRS investigations of Swiss banking will bring about tax lawyers advising Americans who have been evading taxes through Swiss bank accounts to come forward and confess. Apparently up to 500 people each month are doing just this. Wow!!! There must be a lot of lying cheating stealing tax evading Americans in this sinking ship. Any expats? Doubt it.

The next article, Ex-UBS Banker Lack Pleads Guilty in 17-Year U.S. Tax Scheme, is about Martin Lack who became the fourth ex-UBS AG banker to plead guilty to aiding wealthy Americans evade taxes, admitting that for 17 years he helped U.S. clients maintain secret overseas accounts. He is one of a handful of offshore enablers of tax evasion to admit guilt since a U.S. crackdown began. About three dozen foreign bankers, lawyers and advisers have been charged.

The third article, actually published two days previously on February 25th, is entitled Credit Suisse Helped Clients Hide Up to $10 Billion, Senate Says. These big buck billions is more than double the amount previously known. It seems that, of the 1,800 bankers who serviced U.S. clients, only 10 have been disciplined and none was fired. According to the article, “to date, no bank executive or senior official at Credit Suisse has been identified as responsible for any of the misconduct in Credit Suisse’s cross-border activity, even though that activity went on for decades, involved tens of thousands of U.S. clients and billions of dollars. Somebody must have known something, but nobody’s saying nothing. If you ask me, it smells like something is rotten in Switzerland as well as Denmark. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this as the rot is exposed, even though it may not get to the top of the heap.

FBAR Electronic Filing is Here (weither you like it or not)

27 Feb

Where have I been? When did all this come about? Now, the ONLY way to file your mandatory FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) is from your computer via the internet!!! What about those people who don’t have a computer? What about those that don’t have internet connectivity? What? Go to an Internet Cafe where someone can easily steal all your private financial information? I suppose the future is now!

To go back a bit, I will describe to you how I found this out. For some reason or other, there I was today, wondering if the time had come that I would be able to electronically file my TD F 90-22.1. I did a search for “e file fbar” and the first web site of the 247,000,000 search results was to the IRS web page which informed that “the Bank Secrecy Act may require you to report the account yearly to the Internal Revenue Service by filing electronically a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114.”

US-FinancialCrimesEnforcementNetwork-Seal.svg

What was this FinCEN? I had never heard of them, so I went to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network home page. It is the first cousin of the IRS — the other arm of the U.S. Treasury, whose mission it is “to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering and promote national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence and strategic use of financial authorities.” Little did I know that all those years that I have been reporting my FBAR to what I thought was the IRS, I have been playing a role in combating money laundering and protecting the national security of the U.S.A. Well, let me tell you, this year, I won’t grind my teeth as I meticulously fill out my FBAR, wondering why Uncle Sam’s money collectors want to know about my measly pension fund and checking account over here in Israel. So electronically file my BSA forms with FinCEN I will, and with a great deal of pride that I am doing my small part for protecting the freedom of America.

And for those of you out there in EXPAT-land, you can access these interactive BSA forms at the FinCEN by merely clicking here and then click on this icon:Download FBAR(FinCEN Form 114)

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