Online FATCA Registration Begins

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in the wake of the UBS scandal to crack down on tax evasion overseas.  “FATCA requires foreign financial firms to report to the IRS offshore accounts held by Americans that are worth more than $50,000.

Foreign financial institutions that fail to comply with FATCA face a 30-percent withholding tax on their U.S. source income, a penalty that could effectively freeze them out of U.S. financial markets.

FATCA does not take effect until July 2014, but there have been many steps leading up to it, including this latest step: the registration process.  Remember though, the registration process is not an individual tax requirement but, rather, is meant to secure the cooperation of financial institutions.  If you are a in charge of a foreign bank, investment firm, or insurance company and you need to know, the schedule of events appears to be as follows:

Registration may be done on paper, but the IRS highly encourages that it be done through their secure online web application.  Once a firm has registered, the IRS issues them a Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN).  Registration ensures that the IRS knows who to call when they have questions about suspected tax cheats.

 

It's Who You Know

Federal tax refund fraud is a growing problem that has the IRS on its toes.  Over the past few years the IRS has intensifyied its efforts to combat refund fraud, but it has been a challenge for the IRS to keep pace.

Some tax criminals are unsophisticated, inexperienced solo operations that are just not very good at what they do.  These are the people we end up reading about in the news after IRS Criminal Investigation nails them.  The more successful tax fraud schemes involve multiple moving parts, or so they think.  For example, when the unsophisticated, inexperienced individual fraudster is well-connected — if he has the right kind of friends — he believes that his potential for swindling the government will increase exponentially.

And if one of his connections happens to be a banker, then he thinks he’s golden.  Hilda Josephine Hernandez-McMullen, a former employee of Wells Fargo Bank, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of bank fraud.  She admitted to assisting members of an identity theft and tax fraud ring that had sought $25 million in false refunds.  She opened bank accounts for people knowing the information provided to her was inaccurate and she cashed fraudulent checks totalling about $38,000.

Ten members of the fraud ring were charged, and Hernandez-McMullen herself is looking at 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud if she receives the maximum sentence.  Not so golden afterall…