No New Version of Voluntary Disclosure Program Coming

The IRS is not issuing a new version of its voluntary disclosure program for wealthy Americans with money hidden abroad to gain amnesty if they come into compliance, despite “commentary in the tax press” suggesting otherwise, an official said June 6.

“That is false. There will be no additional iteration of OVDP,” said Daniel Price, an attorney in the Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel in Austin, using an acronym for the agency’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Rumors of a new version, he said, appeared to stem from an IRS request for comments on certain forms, but that request was part of “standard operating procedure to review OVDP numbers.”

The IRS plans to close the program by Sep. 28, 2018, the agency announced in March, but that doesn’t mean Americans stashing cash abroad should sleep soundly, Price continued.

“We’re not doing away with voluntary disclosure practice—we’re doing away with the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program,” he said during a Texas Federal Tax Institute meeting in San Antonio.

Price later added that other offshore tax tracking programs, such as the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act and the Swiss Bank Program, have bolstered the IRS’ data collection abilities and crackdown on bad behavior abroad.

“Offshore issues remain a firm priority of the service,” he said. “We’ve issued many John Doe summonses and are expecting more in the future.”

The OVDP has provided the IRS with $11.1 billion in back taxes, penalties, and interest from more than 56,000 participating taxpayers since its launch in 2009, the agency said in its March 13 news release announcing the program’s coming close. Still, use of the program peaked at 18,000 taxpayers coming forward in 2011 before dropping to just 600 last year, the release said.