- 1 A Few 100 Streamlined Offshore Cases Do Not Make You an Expert
- 2 Be Careful Claiming to be an Expert Attorney
- 3 How to Protect Yourself
- 4 Do They Primarily Blog on other Areas of Tax Law?
- 5 Ask them the Hard Questions Up Front
- 6 Go with Your Gut
- 7 Current Year vs Prior Year Non-Compliance
- 8 Avoid False Offshore Disclosure Submissions (Willful vs Non-Willful)
- 9 Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm
A Few 100 Streamlined Offshore Cases Do Not Make You an Expert
The Streamlined Offshore Procedures refer to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures — which can be broken down further into the Streamlined Domestic Offshore (for US residents with offshore accounts) and Streamlined Foreign Offshore (for foreign residents with US person status). The Streamlined Procedures are deceptively complex. In over nearly nine years of existence, our international Board-Certified tax team has handled thousands of offshore disclosures. Recently, a Taxpayer who was dissatisfied with another law firm came to us. They were upset because the submission was done incorrectly and they worried the IRS would get wind of it. They were more upset, because they paid a ‘premium fee,’ since the firm claimed to be experts.
Be Careful Claiming to be an Expert Attorney
The ABA has a great article you can read here about claiming to be an attorney expert (which attorneys should not do), and how it sets the attorney up for being sued for misrepresentation.
Take for example a firm claiming to be expert FBAR Attorneys because they completed 100 Streamlined cases (over the nine years that the Streamlined Procedures has been in existence).
That equates to completing one streamlined submission per month…
Does that sound like an expert to you?
How to Protect Yourself
Here are some ways to help you protect yourself:
Do They Primarily Blog on other Areas of Tax Law?
Some attorneys cast a wide net of different tax matters they handle, hoping to catch whoever they can. Offshore disclosure and compliance is a very complex area of international tax law and should be the only area of tax the firm handles.
Do they write original articles or just ‘borrow’ from more experienced firms?
How many videos explaining the content have they posted?
Do they seem vested in your success or their bottom-line?
Ask them the Hard Questions Up Front
During your initial consultation be sure to ask them the questions that are most pressing to you. Oftentimes it is difficult to provide very specific responses in a 30-minute initial consultation, but their responses should give you an idea at least if they know what they are doing.
Go with Your Gut
If the attorneys sound too sales-driven, or they are trying to fearmonger you, consider moving on to the next firm.
Do not let any firm make you feel scared, or that you need to act ‘yesterday’ in order to get the job done.
Current Year vs Prior Year Non-Compliance
Once a taxpayer missed the tax and reporting (such as FBAR and FATCA) requirements for prior years, they will want to be careful before submitting their information to the IRS in the current year. That is because they may risk making a quiet disclosure if they just begin filing forward in the current year and/or mass filing previous year forms without doing so under one of the approved IRS offshore submission procedures. Before filing prior untimely foreign reporting forms, taxpayers should consider speaking with a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist that specializes exclusively in these types of offshore disclosure matters.
Avoid False Offshore Disclosure Submissions (Willful vs Non-Willful)
In recent years, the IRS has increased the level of scrutiny for certain streamlined procedure submissions. When a person is non-willful, they have an excellent chance of making a successful submission to Streamlined Procedures. If they are willful, they would submit to the IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program instead. But, if a willful Taxpayer submits an intentionally false narrative under the Streamlined Procedures (and gets caught), they may become subject to significant fines and penalties.
Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm
Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, specifically IRS offshore disclosure.
Contact our firm today for assistance.