Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Casting the wide net...

Low hanging fruit to pick. Geographic distance and multiple frauds at home gurantees this and much more to come.

By Ryan J. Donmoyer

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is circulating draft legislation that would double some penalties on Americans who use offshore bank accounts to evade taxes and give the Internal Revenue Service more tools to catch them.

The 15-page plan would stop short of more sweeping changes proposed March 2 by Michigan Senator Carl Levin that won support from President Barack Obama’s administration.

Baucus’s legislation would require foreign banks that let customers trade U.S. securities to report more detailed information about account holdings to the IRS. It would double to six years the amount of time the IRS may pursue back taxes in civil actions.

It also would require Americans to file with their tax returns a form disclosing the contents of foreign accounts containing more than $10,000. Taxpayers already must send the form to the Treasury Department.

Levin on March 2 proposed a dozen laws to stop what he said was a loss of $100 billion annually in U.S. taxes on income held in offshore accounts that isn’t reported on tax returns. The legislation won the backing of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Lawmakers have been working on a legislative response as the U.S. Justice Department sues Swiss bank UBS AG to turn over the names of about 52,000 Americans with offshore accounts. UBS agreed to turn over about 250 names and is resisting providing the others, citing Swiss bank secrecy laws.

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