by David Kestenbaum – May 14, 2013 3:34 PM
…Other people who come forward aren’t even sure they’ve done anything wrong.
Marvin Van Horn and his wife live in New Zealand, where they have a checking account and retirement savings. They weren’t intentionally hiding anything from the IRS. But he heard a story on the radio about offshore tax cheats — and realized that the rules might apply to him.
So he decided to go through the IRS’s voluntary disclosure program. He learned he would have to pay back taxes for six years, which came to about $20,000. That seemed fair, he said. But then there was the penalty: $172,000.
Van Horn says the penalty would have gutted his retirement savings. So he appealed. And after 851 days (he was counting), the penalty was reduced to $20,000.
There’s a spectrum in these cases, attorneys say. There are people who went to great lengths to hide money, people who didn’t know they were hiding money, and a lot of people in between.
One other thing about the 39,000 people have come forward so far: They’re probably a drop in the bucket. Somewhere between five and seven million U.S. citizens live abroad. Fewer than 1 million of them declare offshore accounts, as required by law.
I love the comments! As for NPR, there is much room for improvement. It could expand on this:
Lois Lerner, the senior executive in charge of the IRS tax exemption department and the federal employee at the center of the exploding scandal over the IRS targeting of conservative, evangelical and pro-Israel non-profits, was given $42,531 in bonuses between 2009 and 2011… Her annual salary in 2009 and 2010 was $172,200, and $177,000 in 2011 and 2012. With the bonuses, Lerner was paid a total of $740,931 for the four-year period.
With scandals like that, it is no wonder that the US government needs to heavily fine the politically unrepresented!