IRS Says “Foreign” Online Gambling Accounts Must Be Reported On An FBAR
Given all the press surrounding the “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” or so-called FBARs, by now we all know about what should be reported on an FBAR, right? Well, given the Internal Revenue Service’s latest assertion in United States v. John C. Hom (Case No. C 13-03721 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California), maybe we had better start studying once again.
Online Gambling Accounts
Mr. Hom was an avid and professional internet gambler with online gambling accounts maintained with various popular overseas entities such as FirePay.com (based in London), PokerStars.com (based in Isle of Man), and Partypoker.com (based in Gibraltar). The overseas gambling accounts circumvent U.S. laws that prohibit the interstate operation of betting businesses in the United States thus making online gambling technically illegal.
Mr. Hom was randomly selected for an audit when during the course of the audit the IRS agent discovered the online gambling accounts. The IRS then assessed the FBAR negligence $10,000 penalty for each unreported online gambling account for each year at issue. While
While these online accounts may not be a traditional type of financial accounts (such as a bank account), the IRS contends that they functioned in the same way as such traditional accounts. For example, taxpayer opened the accounts in his own name, he had a user name and password, funds were transferred or disbursed from the accounts at taxpayer’s discretion, taxpayer could transfer funds from one account to another, deposit and withdraw funds at will and could carry a balance in the accounts. For these reasons, the IRS maintains that the accounts at FirePay.com, PokerStars.com, and Partypoker.com are “bank, securities, or other financial account[s]” for purposes of FBAR reporting under the Bank Secrecy Act provisions.
This issue is currently being considered by the judge. We will keep you updated on what happens.
Who Must File FBAR?
The Bank Secrecy Act requires that a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), be filed if the aggregate balances of such foreign accounts exceed $10,000 at any time during the year. This form is used as part of the IRS’s enforcement initiative against abusive offshore transactions and attempts by U.S. persons to avoid taxes by hiding money offshore.
The FBAR covers a calendar year and must be filed no later than June 30th of the following year (regardless of whether you file an extension for you Form 1040) and includes any interest a U.S. person has in:
Offshore bank accounts
Offshore mutual funds
Offshore hedge funds
Offshore variable universal life insurance policies
Offshore variable annuities a/k/a Swiss Annuities
Debit card and prepaid credit card offshore accounts
Effective September 30, 2013, Form TD F 90-22.1 (the old FBAR form used in previous years) has been replace by FinCEN Form 114. Also, unlike the old FBAR form which was filed in paper format only, FinCEN From 114 can only be filed electronically. The deadline to file remains June 30th following the reporting calendar year (i.e., the 2013 FBAR is due June 30, 2014). No extensions are available.
The penalties for FBAR noncompliance are stiffer than the civil tax penalties ordinarily imposed for delinquent taxes. The penalties for noncompliance which the government may impose include a fine of not more than $500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years, for failure to file a report, supply information, and for filing a false or fraudulent report.
The Solution For Past Noncompliance
The IRS is giving taxpayers one last chance to come forward and voluntarily disclose foreign accounts and unreported foreign income before the IRS starts investigating non-compliant taxpayers.
If you have never reported your foreign investments on your U.S. Tax Returns, you should seriously consider participating in the IRS’s 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI). Once the IRS contacts you, you cannot get into this program and would be subject to the maximum penalties (civil and criminal) under the tax law. Taxpayers who hire an experienced tax attorney in Offshore Account Voluntary Disclosures should result in avoiding any pitfalls and gaining the maximum benefits conferred by this program.
Description: Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere in California qualify you for OVDI.