H&R Block Files Client’s Tax Returns Early Delaying Refunds

Certain H&R Block Client's Refunds Are Delayed
Certain H&R Block Client’s Refunds Are Delayed

H&R Block (HRB)–the largest public retail tax preparation company in the United States–has confirmed that they have filed many tax returns containing certain delayed credits too early, causing their clients refunds to be delayed.  The primary issue is the Education Tax Credit which was not accepted for electronic filing until recently (February 22nd).  This has prompted the IRS to send letters to HRB clients instead of their expected refunds.  HRB has released the following statement:

“H&R Block has confirmed with the IRS that there was an issue with certain tax returns filed before February 22, 2013 that included certain education tax credits claimed on Form 8863.  We have worked with the IRS to expedite a solution to this issue for all of our affected clients.”

If you are a current HRB client, and have received notification from the IRS concerning the early filing of your tax return–or you think you may be affected–it is advised that you contact your local HRB office, or contact their executive headquarters by calling 1-800-HRBLOCK.

Source: ABC

R&G Brenner & SKYPE Team Up!

SKYPE + R&G Brenner = Taxes Done Easy!

R&G Brenner’s own Dennis Grogan, EA was recently interviewed by SKYPE when they discovered we were using their platform to conduct remote tax interviews with our domestic and International tax clients.  As the IRS, States and taxpayers become more technolgocially savvy, video conferencing has been a way for both our clients and our tax consultants to save time and increase accuracy in preparing tax returns. At R&G Brenner, saving you time and money is what we are all about!  Thus, we are happy to embrace this trend and we see these types of remote tax interviews increasing exponentially in the future.  Here’s what SKYPE had to say:

We’re always interested in learning about new ways Skype is being used in the day-to-day business world. While we’ve heard many great Skype for business use stories from companies in a variety of industries around the globe, even we still occasionally get surprised.

Recently, we were intrigued to read that some tax consultants are making the filing process easier for current and potential clients by using Skype to conduct remote tax-preparation sessions. Although we’ve heard from professionals using Skype previously, post-tax season this year it appears to be emerging as an industry trend.

R&G Brenner Income Tax Consultants, a New York-based tax consultancy, uses Skype to connect with clients for remote and overseas appointments. Dennis Grogan, an Enrolled Agent and self-proclaimed ‘oldest trend setter’ at the firm, said he does a lot of remote consultations for clients both domestically and outside of the U.S.

“With our international customers especially, it’s actually an expectation for them that we use Skype, as it’s already a comfortable part of their day-to-day business,” he said. “Skype is very easy to use, and since our international customers often have the most difficult taxes to file it helps simplify the process.”

Several of the largest tax preparation service providers now offer video conferencing as a way to connect with their customers. Mark Ciaramitataro, vice president of products at H&R Block, recently told Investors Business Daily that the company “sees videoconferencing as a good way to engage technically savvy taxpayers,” and predicts that “in two years, videoconferencing will be a common way that individuals file their taxes.”

If you are interested in connecting to an R&G Brenner professional via SKYPE, click here to schedule a video conference appointment today!

Original Article: SKYPE Workplace Blog

Tax Pitfalls To Avoid When Investing In Funds

Beware Of Fund Tax Implications

Even if it is too late to do anything about this year’s returns, it is a good time to start planning for next year’s. At the root of the most common blunders are three types of taxable fund payouts: interest income, dividends and capital gains. While all three are subject to a complex web of tax rates and regulations, investors can limit their tax bills by understanding their funds, planning carefully and staying abreast of tax changes in Washington.  Here, according to financial advisers, are five of the biggest mistakes many fund investors make:

1. Keeping ‘tax-inefficient’ funds in a taxable brokerage account.

Some types of funds distribute lots of dividends, interest income and capital gains, all of which can boost tax bills. Many investors would be better off holding those funds in tax-sheltered retirement accounts. With a standard 401(k) plan or individual retirement account, you pay tax only when you make withdrawals; earnings and withdrawals usually are tax-free in a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA.

Tax-efficient funds—those unlikely to make big distributions—can be left in a taxable account, says Michael Gibney, a financial adviser in Riverdale, N.J. You will owe capital-gains tax if you sell those securities at a gain, but at least the timing of such sales is under your control.

Taxable-bond funds, including high-yield funds and funds holding Treasury inflation-protected securities, are among the investments you might consider holding in an IRA, advisers say. Ditto for funds that emphasize high-dividend stocks. Meanwhile, index funds that track a broad stock-market benchmark—and most but not all ETFs—might be candidates for a taxable account, as would municipal bond funds, since interest earned is tax-free.

Determining whether a fund is going to have capital gains can be tricky. Each year, funds must distribute gains if portfolio managers sell securities for a net taxable gain. One indicator is the level of turnover in the portfolio, though, admittedly, it is an imprecise gauge.

The higher a fund’s turnover, a figure that can be found on Morningstar.com, the more likely it is to pay out capital gains, says Mark Armbruster, president of Armbruster Capital Management, which is in the Rochester, N.Y., area. If a fund has paid out capital gains in the past, something that also can be found on Morningstar, that also is a sign it may do so again, he says.

Small-stock funds may produce more capital gains than large-stock funds, advisers say, because there are many more small stocks to trade among.

Broad index funds, which don’t change their holdings very often, are less likely to pay out capital gains than some actively managed funds that change their investments based on market conditions. The Vanguard 500 Index fund, for example, has a 4% turnover ratio and hasn’t distributed capital gains since 1999. The actively managed CGM Focus, on the other hand, has a nearly 500% turnover rate. It has performed poorly in recent years, so it hasn’t been in a position to distribute gains, but it distributed $8.21 a share in mostly short-term capital gains in 2007.

Still, when and why a fund realizes capital gains is complex, so “turnover is only a very rough gauge of tax efficiency,” says Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. Another gauge is Morningstar’s “potential capital-gains exposure” statistic, an estimate of the percentage of a fund’s assets that represent mostly unrealized gains.

ETFs, in particular, rarely distribute capital gains, Mr. Armbruster says. That is because most are index funds but also because they are structured to minimize taxable sales of portfolio securities.

2. Holding on to funds that cost you big.

Capital gains, whether taken on purpose by the investor or passed along by a fund, can add to your tax bill. But you can lessen their impact by strategically booking capital losses when holdings decline in value, so that they offset any gains dollar for dollar. In any year, if your capital losses exceed your capital gains, you can take up to $3,000 of the loss as a tax deduction and carry the rest of the loss forward to offset gains in future years.

This “tax-loss harvesting” has to be done carefully, however, to comply with Internal Revenue Service rules. Once you sell a fund or other security at a loss, you have to wait 30 days before buying either that same fund or a very similar fund (for instance, one that tracks the same index), or the loss is invalidated. “The securities cannot be ‘substantially identical,’ ” says Gil Charney, principal tax researcher at the Tax Institute at H&R Block, a division of H&R Block Inc., but “the IRS never clearly defined what substantially identical means.… It’s gray.”

If you want to keep exposure to the sector that fund covered, you can buy a slightly different fund—for instance, you likely could sell a fund tracking the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and immediately buy one tracking the Russell 1000, says Mr. Armbruster. You could later return to your original holding.

Keep tax-loss harvesting in mind any time the market or a particular holding suffers a major decline; you’ll miss opportunities if you think about this only near year-end.

3. Buying an ETF without learning what its tax treatment is.

Gains and income from certain ETFs are subject to funky tax rules because of the funds’ holdings or their corporate structures. Though most of these aberrations invest in niche industries, some of the most popular ETFs could leave you with a surprisingly large tax bill.

The most popular offender: Gains from selling SPDR Gold Shares, the second-largest exchange-traded product by assets, are taxed at a top 28% rate on collectibles, rather than the maximum 15% rate on long-term capital gains. That is true for all other funds that hold physical precious metals.

There are different rules for ETFs that provide commodities exposure by investing in futures contracts: Gains are taxed 60% at a long-term rate and 40% at a short-term rate. ETFs structured this way include some from the U.S. Commodity, PowerShares and ProShares families.

Also, some non-stock ETFs are structured as partnerships and report their tax information on a Schedule K-1 instead of the common 1099 form. Schedule K-1 typically is sent later than a 1099—it may not even arrive before your tax return is due because the partnership has to file its own return before sending you this form, says Eric Smith, an IRS spokesman. In this situation, you’ll want to ask for an extension from the IRS, he says. You can avoid these hassles by holding these funds in an IRA.

4. Fudging the new forms.

Reporting securities sales on your tax return has gotten more complex, with new rules that require brokerage firms and fund companies to report to the IRS what you paid for some securities you sell. Because that reporting applies only to securities purchased after specified dates, you may have sales of both “covered” and non-covered assets. As in the past, for non-covered securities, the financial firm may voluntarily provide cost information only to you.

The new rules could make tax preparation more complex, tripping up some investors.

“Basically what they’ve done is taken Schedule D and added a new schedule behind it—Form 8949. All the transactions you used to put directly on Schedule D…are now on this new form,” says Robert Schmansky, a financial adviser in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The most important thing to know about Form 8949 is that you will have to separate the covered transactions from those that aren’t and report them on different lines. Individual stocks purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2011, are covered; for mutual funds and most ETFs, the new treatment applies to purchases on or after Jan. 1, 2012. Then, you must add the covered and non-covered transactions and put the total on Schedule D. 

5. Investing without paying attention to the tax debate in Washington.

When deciding when to take gains and what account to hold various funds in, it is important to stay abreast of what is going on in Washington.

Think hard about where tax rates are likely headed in the future. While some tax changes affecting funds are already in store, some experts watching the political debate—and the ballooning federal deficit—say investors may want to hedge their bets against higher rates and pay taxes on their gains soon.

There are a number of big tax changes on tap starting in 2013 that could deal a huge blow to your funds. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, the top rate on ordinary income and short-term capital gains will rise to 39.6% from 35%.

The current top 15% rate on long-term capital gains is set to rise to 20%. Qualified dividends will no longer be taxed at a top 15% rate and will be taxed as ordinary income. Also, net investment income, which includes dividends, interest and capital gains, will be subject to a new 3.8% Medicare tax, part of the Affordable Care Act, for married couples filing jointly who earn more than $250,000 a year and individuals earning more than $200,000 a year…

If you think that your tax rate on capital gains will rise soon, you may want to book a capital gain this year to lock in the 15% rate. Unlike with a capital loss, if you’re booking a gain you can repurchase the same exact fund in any quantity immediately after selling it.

Figuring the ins and outs of tax pitfalls for funds is a very complex process.  Contact an R&G Brenner professional to help you navigate these tricky tax waters.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


8 Tax Tips For Tax Year 2011

Every year, taxpayers forfeit more than one billion dollars of their money to the government. Missed tax credits and deductions, choosing the wrong filing status, not filing at all and other errors all keep taxpayers from getting all they are due in tax refunds.

With recent tax law changes and the extension of the payroll tax holiday, taxpayers may wonder how these things affect their 2011 tax returns…

“Marriage, divorce, having a child, even going back to college — these life changes can bring about tax savings,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. “Every year, taxpayers are leaving money on the table by not claiming all of the credits and deductions to which they are entitled.”

Some of those changes taxpayers should take into account impact workers, homeowners, college students and many others.  The following tips can help you–the taxpayer–navigate these changes:

1. Payroll tax holiday has been extended for two months — While it doesn’t impact the tax return, it certainly impacts everyday financial decisions. The 2-percent payroll tax holiday, which amounts to a temporary pay raise for many workers, was extended for two months through Feb. 29. Unless Congress extends this tax cut through the rest of 2012, the employees’ portion of Social Security contributions will return to the 2010 amount of 6.2 percent of wages for 160 million workers. This would mean almost a $1,000 decrease in take-home pay for someone earning $50,000 over the full year.

2. Millions may be eligible to claim casualty losses — There were many natural disasters in 2011, including Hurricane Irene, tornadoes in the Midwest and Texas wildfires, resulting in a record-breaking number of federal disaster areas. Claiming a casualty loss as an itemized tax deduction could mean significant tax savings for millions of taxpayers in a federal disaster area. Losses in a federally declared disaster area in 2011 can be claimed on either an amended 2010 return or a 2011 return.

3. Education credit extended — One of the most overlooked credits is the American Opportunity Credit, which was extended through 2012. This credit allows eligible taxpayers to claim up to $2,500 for each of the first four years of college for each student. Through 2012, the Tuition and Fees Deduction provides a reduction in taxable income of up to $4,000, and the Lifetime Learning Creditis worth up to $2,000 per return for post-secondary degree programs. These education benefits cannot be combined for the same student, so taxpayers should choose the one that is most beneficial. Also, with today’s average college graduate having more than $25,000 in student loan debt, they should remember to deduct student loan interest.

4. Energy credits have been reduced — Taxpayers may claim energy-efficiency tax credits for up to 10 percent of the cost of eligible home improvements, but the maximum lifetime credit is now $500 instead of $1,500. If taxpayers already claimed credits equal to or greater than $500 in previous years, then they cannot claim the credit on a 2011 return.

5. Credit for hybrid vehicles has expired — Though the tax credit for hybrid vehicles expired, taxpayers may claim a credit for 2011 for neighborhood vehicles, conversion kits and plug-in electric drive vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

6. New cost basis reporting requirements in effect — Beginning this year, the IRS now requires brokers to report the cost basis, as well as the sale of stocks and securities. Use the cost basis reported by the broker to help calculate the amount of capital gains taxes owed on a 2011 return.

7. Adoption credit is fully refundable — The Adoption Credit can be claimed for qualified expenses up to $13,360 for 2011. The IRS will refund any amount of the credit that exceeds the adoptive parents’ tax liability.

8. Tax deadline is April 17 — Because April 15 is a Sunday and Washington, D.C., will observe Emancipation Day on April 16, the deadline to file federal tax returns is April 17. Most deadlines for filing state returns are also April 17; however some states may differ…

Contact R&G Brenner to help you navigate this extraordinarily difficult tax year or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.  We also offer live video conferencing via Skype from the comfort of your home or office.

Source: Yahoo Finance

R&G Brenner Receives 2011 Best of Business Award

The Small Business Community Association (SBCA) has selected R&G Brenner Income Tax to receive the 2011 Best of Business award in the field of Income Tax Preparation for the NY Metro Area.  This is the second time that R&G Brenner has received this award.  Thanks to all of R&G Brenner’s hard working associates and staff who made this award possible.  And a special “thank you” goes out to all R&G Brenner clients.  Is is due to  your loyal patronage that R&G Brenner will be celebrating it 71st anniversary this year.  We hope to see you all again in 2012.

May you have a happy & healthy new year,

Benjamin K. Brenner, President

Same-Sex Couples Face Tax Hurdles

This past June, New York became the 6th state to legalize same sex marriage.  Regardless of ones individual beliefs concerning same-sex marriage, this much is clear:  Tax laws–which are already complex & confusing–are that much more baffling for same-sex couples. This is mainly due to the fact that the Federal Government does not recognize same-sex unions.  Same-sex couples must file separate federal returns, however they can file jointly in New York State and some other states that recognize these unions.

“What was supposed to be this way of expressing our love was going to seriously confuse our taxes, investments, estate planning, really all our finances,” says [Maggy] Porter, a registered nurse. “Our CPA is great, but even he seems pretty bewildered”

While marriage can save heterosexual couples a bundle, it could cost same-sex couples thousands of dollars in extra taxes and professional advice…

“Filing taxes for same-sex spouses is much more complicated, more expensive and time-consuming, and there is very little guidance from the IRS or elsewhere,” says Pan Haskins, a certified public accountant in San Francisco.

While the makers of popular do-it-yourself tax programs like Turbotax & H&R Block are modifying their programs to navigate these complex rules, financial planners are recommending that same-sex couples hire a tax professional to navigate these tax labyrinths:

New York State advises couples do two sets of federal returns — official individual returns for each partner, and a dummy return as if the pair were filing jointly. The joint return is “not to submit but to use it as a work sheet so that you are bringing the correct income information onto a joint state return,” says Ed Walsh, spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Some same-sex spouses are fed up enough to submit that joint federal return. Haskins reports, in her experience, the IRS has so far not challenged same-sex married returns. (IRS forms don’t ask for gender identification.) But she warns couples who file federal returns jointly that they risk financial penalties and a potential audit. “This,” she says, “is still the Wild West of financial planning.

If you would like more information regarding same-sex tax implications, contact an R&G Brenner representative today.  The following are some tax tips to consider for same-sex tax filers:

CONSIDER HOLDING ASSETS JOINTLY:  Income or expenses from joint assets can be allocated all or in part to either owner’s return.

INCOME: (e.g. interest, dividends, capital gains) may be shifted to the partner with the lower income, while deductions (e.g. mortgage interest, real estate taxes, capital losses) may be claimed by the partner in the higher income tax bracket. This could lead to tax savings for both partners.

TAXES ON HEALTH INSURANCE:  Unlike heterosexual marriages, employer-based health coverage for same-sex spouses is not tax-exempt, and employers must report it as income to the IRS.

Source: Newsday

Tax Benefits Increase for 2012

Even in the face of severe federal & state deficits, many tax benefits are due to raise for tax year 2012 (calendar year 2013).  By law, tax provisions are required to keep pace with inflation.  The new dollar amounts affecting most taxpayers are:

Individual Deductions and Credits

  • Personal and dependent exemptions are $3,800, up $100 from 2011
  • The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300
    • $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150
    • $8,700 for heads of household, up $200
  • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.

Credits, Deductions & Related Phase Outs 

  • The maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011.
  • The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078
  • The foreign earned income deduction rises to $95,100, up from $97,300–an increase of $2,200.
  • The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $104,000 for joint filers, up from $102,000
    • $52,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $51,000
  • Annual deductible amounts for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) increased from the tax year 2011 amounts; please see the table below.

Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)

Self-only coverage

Family coverage

Minimum annual deductible



Maximum annual deductible



Maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses



  • The $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans begins to phase out for a married taxpayers filing a joint returns at $125,000 and phases out completely at $155,000, an increase of $5,000 from the phase out limits for tax year 2011. For single taxpayers, the phase out ranges remain at the 2011 levels

Estate & Gift 

  • For an estate of any decedent dying during calendar year 2012, the basic exclusion from estate tax amount is $5,120,000, up from $5,000,000 for calendar year 2011. Also, if the executor chooses to use the special use valuation method for qualified real property, the aggregate decrease in the value of the property resulting from the choice cannot exceed $1,040,000, up from $1,020,000 for 2011.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $13,000.


  • The monthly limit on the value of qualified transportation benefits exclusion for qualified parking provided by an employer to its employees for 2012 rises to $240, up $10 from the limit in 2011. However, the temporary increase in the monthly limit on the value of the qualified transportation benefits exclusion for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and transit pass provided by an employer to its employees expires and reverts to $125 for 2012.
  • Several tax benefits are unchanged in 2012. For example, the additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens remains $1,150 for married individuals and $1,450 for singles and heads of household
If you would like more information on inflation adjustments and it can affect your tax status, contact an R&G Brenner representative today for assistance.
Source:  IRS.gov

October 17th Deadline for Tax Return Extensions Approaching

Oct. 17 is a key deadline for millions of individual taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2010 tax returns. The IRS expects to receive millions of tax returns from taxpayers who used Form 4868 to request a six-month extension to file their returns.

Some taxpayers can wait until after Oct. 17 to file, including those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities and people affected by recent natural disasters. More information is available in IRS Publication 17 (2010), Your Federal Income Tax.

If you filed an extension and need to submit a tax return before this deadline, please contact us as soon as possible so we may assist you.

Source: IRS.gov

Free Tax Prep Sites: Inaccurate Returns & Privacy Breach Concerns

The old adage that “you get what you pay for” is compounded when applied to free income tax preparation…In fact, a free tax return may cost taxpayers more than they bargained for.  The title of a report filed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) sums it up frankly: Accuracy of Tax Returns, the Quality Assurance Processes, and Security of Taxpayer Information Remain Problems for the Volunteer Program.

The TIGTA audits of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites–a program sponsored by the IRS which caters to low-income tax payers, the elderly & the disabled–found that their accuracy rate was far below 50%.  Of the 36 tax returns that undercover TIGTA auditors had prepared at VITA sites, only 14 were considered to be filed correctly. That is a whopping 61% inaccuracy rate.  What is particularly alarming is the deliberate “modified facts” that some volunteers engaged in to inflate potential refunds, as well as the absence of a thorough vetting process to weed-out potentially unscrupulous volunteers:

The accuracy rates for tax returns prepared at Volunteer Program sites decreased sharply from the 2010 Filing Season. Of the 36 tax returns prepared for TIGTA auditors, only 14 (39 percent) were prepared correctly. Tax returns were prepared incorrectly because volunteers did not follow all guidelines. For example, volunteers did not always use the intake sheets correctly. For three (14 percent) of the 22 incorrectly prepared tax returns, volunteers knowingly modified the facts the auditors presented…[Furthermore] Current steps and processes do not ensure the integrity of volunteers, even though the volunteers have access to taxpayers’ Personally Identifiable Information, such as Social Security Numbers, driver licenses, and home addresses.

TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George had the following to say:

The findings of this review are very troubling…The Volunteer Program plays an important role in helping many taxpayers, notably those who have low incomes, and the elderly, disabled, and limited-English proficient, participate in the tax system. Like all taxpayers, they deserve to have their tax returns prepared accurately. I am pleased that the IRS has agreed to our recommendations to address these problems.

Some of the important TGITA recommendations agreed to by the VITA program are as follows:

  • Include anonymous shopping visits as part of the quality review process
  • Improve controls over Volunteer Standards of Conduct (Form 13615)
  • Develop a process to ensure all volunteers are following the guidance focusing on the integrity of the Volunteer Program and the security of taxpayer information
  • Review the IRS fraud hotline procedures to determine best practices

R&G Brenner recognizes the valuable service that the thousands of VITA volunteers provide to millions of taxpayers across the country. However, it is apparent that the quality of these returns leaves much to be desired considering the continually changing & vastly complex tax code.  When you pair this with the fact that most VITA volunteers receive little or no compensation, it is not hard to see why so many returns are being prepared incorrectly, and that an environment for potential identity theft is being sewn.

For many, a tax return is the most important financial document they will file each year. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your tax preparer have a vested interest in the accuracy of your filings.  Here at R&G Brenner, we offer many promotions including a $50 introductory fee for new clients that qualify for tax assistance.  We can’t compete with “free”, but we can guarantee that our tax professionals, enrolled agents & CPA’s will have an attentive vested interest in preparing your return accurately, and getting you back every penny you deserve.  Remember, it’s not “free” if you are forced to spend considerable time retriving old tax documents, and money on penalties and interest correcting mistakes.  Contact R&G Brenner for more information, and to have your tax return reviewed for accuracy free of charge.

Sources: TIGTAWebCPA

IRS Program Draws Out Tax Cheats

The Internal Revenue Service’s Voluntary Disclosure Program which offers reduced penalties and zero jail time for those that report illegally stashed income in overseas shelters is working.  A similar program was implemented in 2009, and between these two programs, over 30,000 tax evaders have disclosed income from accounts in 140 countries, netting the IRS over $2.25 Billion dollars in back taxes, penalties and fines.

“The world has clearly changed,” [IRS Commissioner Douglas] Shulman said. “We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we’re making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion…Unlike a few years ago, it’s very clear now that there’s a real price to be paid for people who think they can hide offshore and not pay their taxes”

The latest disclosure program offered reduced penalties, but it was no free walk. Taxpayers were required to pay up to eight years of back taxes and a penalty of up to 25 percent of the highest annual amount in the overseas account from 2003 through 2010.

The disclosure programs have also provided the IRS with information about banks and advisers who have assisted people with offshore tax evasion. Shulman said the agency will use the information to continue its enforcement efforts.

With the financial crisis, a looming double dip recession, states on the verge of bankruptcy & the recent discovery that the IRS pays out nearly as much in entitlements & credits than it collects in taxes, its becoming harder to find that “free lunch”.

Source: Newsday