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Swiss acount results in tax penalty for Florida man

Objections to paying taxes go back to the Revolutionary War and before. In the modern era, those who have the financial ability to pay the taxes the government seeks but hide their money instead are subject to penalties. Those penalties may include very substantial fines, like in a recent tax evasion case of a Florida man.

The man, 87, is being forced to pay the United States government civil penalties. The amount is 150 percent of the value of funds in his Swiss bank account. The penalties were assessed as 50 percent of that value per year for the years of 2004, 2005, and 2006 respectively. His lawyers say that it is the biggest penalty by percentage on record.

The government's rationale is that the man allegedly failed to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with the U.S. Treasury in those years. Penalties in cases like this are referred to as FBAR penalties, which refers to foreign bank account reporting. They are applied in cases where it is contended that the person with offshore accounts may have engaged in some measure of tax evasion.

The man's lawyers consider the amount the man is being asked to pay to be excessive. They will be presenting arguments before a judge that it violates prohibitions against excessive fines that are in the United States Constitution. The attorneys note that the money is solely because the man didn't file a piece of paper.

Tax crime and evasion cases, in Florida, and elsewhere, can involve a multiplicity of variables. Sometimes, like in this case, offshore money may figure in. In order to build a quality defense, anyone accused of tax evasion may be wise to consult an attorney with experience in this area.

Source:  Benefits Pro, "Florida man owes 150% penalty on Swiss account" Susannah Nesmith, David Voreacos, May. 28, 2014

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