In a recent article, Ohlmacher begins:
About 12,000 tax cheats have come clean under a program that offered reduced penalties and no jail time to people who voluntarily disclosed assets they were hiding overseas, the Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday.
We are not tax cheats. We pay taxes (much higher taxes, for those of us living in Canada). If we are guilty of anything, it’s not knowing that we had to file US taxes, especially after years of filing zeros for taxable income.
And we certainly weren’t “hiding” assets. These assets are our chequing accounts, retirement savings, education savings for our children… These assets are just our ordinary day-to-day banking transactions. None of it is being “hidden.” The issue is with FBAR, a requirement my H&R Block advisor calls the US Treasury Department’s “best kept secret” (up until they came to collect).
“The world has clearly changed,” Shulman said. “We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we’re making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.”
These “international bank secrecy laws” that the IRS is boasting to have “pierced”? Those would be privacy laws, designed to protect individuals from having private details given out without their consent. The IRS is boasting, publicly, that it has no respect for the privacy of it’s citizens, and little more than contempt for the laws of sovereign nations.
Fewer than 100 people apply for the program in a typical year, in part because the penalties can far exceed the value of the hidden account, depending on how long the account holder has evaded U.S. taxes.
Again, the language misrepresents the situation to paint people like us as criminals. We haven’t “evaded U.S. taxes.” We’ve “not filed taxes,” often because we knew we simply didn’t owe anything anyway.
“Unlike a few years ago, it’s very clear now that there’s a real price to be paid for people who think they can hide offshore and not pay their taxes,” [IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman] said.
Just in case you had any illusions as to what the IRS thinks about us…