If you are a U.S. citizen or resident and maintain an undisclosed foreign bank account, beware. As numerous prosecutions trumpeted by the IRS make clear, the stakes have never been higher and the potential liabilities can be staggering. Why worry?
The vaunted secrecy of Swiss and other tax havens turns out not to be so secret after all. They've already named names to the IRS and more are on the way. Although the UBS case was most publicized, HSBC, Credit Suisse, and many other banks are in the mix now, as are many foreign countries besides Switzerland. So putting your head in the sand won't work in the long term.
The IRS had a special "Voluntary Disclosure Program" to bring violators into the fold, but the cutoff for participating in it was Oct. 15, 2009. If you are in that program, you are probably still slogging through filings and disclosures to the IRS. But if you missed that deadline--and many thousands did--beware. Sooner or later you'll have to address this problem one wcontinue reading