While it seems the world was watching the testimony of the former FBI director yesterday, another hearing was underway. The Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division provided a report to Congress on the Tax Division's activities and requests. Staffing and funding requests for the next fiscal year remain about the same, $107 million and 499 direct employees.
Included in the 18-page report were examples of criminal prosecutions and investigations involving five main areas of focus: (1) abusive tax shelters; (2) offshore tax evasion; (3) employment tax enforcement; (4) stolen identity refund fraud; and (5) tax defiers. Notably, there was a large uptick in the number of criminal employment tax enforcement investigations and prosecutions. The report suggested continued focus in the employment tax arena.
Also noted in the report was the amount of information received through the DOJ/Swiss bank settlement program and related treaty requests for additional information. Whistleblowers were also mentioned as a source of off-shore investigations. The report mentioned that new criminal and civil cases were being pursued as the tremendous amount of information is still being reviewed by the government.
There was no mention of changing the current focus in the above mentioned areas nor was there any mention of the termination of the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program or Streamline procedures, although there seems to be some rumblings that those programs may be ending in 2017.
All of this means taxpayers should take advantage of the settlement programs if tax non-comliance is an issue.
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