IRS unveils new program aimed at offshore accounts

The program comes after the end of a similar IRS venture, which closed in October 2009 after attracting 15,000 disclosures. The just-announced program will run through Aug. 31, and Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, said in a statement that it was the “last, best chance” for tax evaders to rejoin the system.

“This new effort gives those hiding money in foreign accounts a tough, fair way to resolve their tax problems once and for all,” Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, said in a statement. “And it gives people a chance to come in before we find them.”

It also features tougher penalties than the program that ended in 2009, with the IRS saying those who waited it out should not be rewarded. The agency says more than 3,000 taxpayers have stepped forward since that first venture ended. 

Under the new program, taxpayers generally will pay a 25 percent penalty on the highest balance they kept in foreign banks during a single year between 2003 and 2010. Program users must also pay back-taxes, with interest, for as many as eight years, with some also able to pay reduced penalties of 5 percent or 12.5 percent. 

The top penalty under the previous program was 20 percent. That endeavor was also came not long after UBS, the Swiss bank, revealed that it had helped enable tax evasion. 

In the Tuesday release, Shulman added that battling international tax evasion was a top agency priority and that the IRS was looking into more banks.

“The situation will just get worse in the months ahead for those hiding assets and income offshore,” Shulman said.