Tax cheats: Fess up without going to jail

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Tax cheats hiding money offshore have until the end of August to fess up if they want Uncle Sam to take it easy on them.

The IRS announced on Tuesday that it would give taxpayers a reduction in penalties -- and no jail time -- if they fess up to any undisclosed overseas accounts by Aug. 31.

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

Tax evaders will face a penalty of up to 25% of the highest annual account balance going back to 2003, though some taxpayers will be able to receive a penalty of as little as 5% depending on the size of the account.

The program also requires tax evaders to fork over back taxes, interest and late charges for up to eight years.

This is the IRS's second voluntary attempt at this program. In 2009 it reeled in 15,000 taxpayers with undisclosed overseas accounts at banks in more than 60 countries.

Penalties under the new initiative are higher than they were during the 2009 program so that people who waited to fess up aren't rewarded. However, Schulman said that as the IRS continues to invest more resources in cracking down on these illegal offshore accounts, this is the time to come forward.

"The situation will just get worse in the months ahead for those hiding assets and income offshore," he said. "This new disclosure initiative is the last, best chance for people to get back into the system." To top of page

 
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.18%4.20%
15 yr fixed3.21%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.32%3.53%
30 yr refi4.17%4.18%
15 yr refi3.21%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,055.87 -116.81 -0.68%
Nasdaq 4,508.69 -19.00 -0.42%
S&P 500 1,982.77 -11.52 -0.58%
Treasuries 2.54 -0.03 -1.21%
Data as of 6:25pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.05 0.02 0.12%
Yahoo! Inc 39.05 0.40 1.03%
Apple Inc 102.64 1.58 1.56%
Facebook Inc 78.29 1.49 1.94%
Oracle Corp 38.83 -0.75 -1.89%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

Inversions have gotten outsized attention. But that masks the fact that there are far bigger corporate tax loopholes that deserve scrutiny. More

Put on these wearable gadgets, and you'll have superhuman strength, sight, hearing and health. More

They may have million dollar-plus nest eggs, but they had to make some big sacrifices along the way to get there. Here's what these four savers did without in order to save seven-figures retirement. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.