Friday, February 11, 2011

Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies. Jane Austen

The IRS has provided everyone who has been hiding money in a foreign bank account from the IRS with a second chance to come clean. The IRS announced a new offshore voluntary disclosure initiative for those who were thinking that Wikileaks won't get hold of their bank records from a disgruntled Swiss bank employee.

The new initiative requires a 25 percent penalty for most participants; but there is a 12.5 percent penalty for those with small (under $75,000) accounts and a five percent penalty for those who didn't open or cause the account to be opened.

Anyone who wants to participate will have to file original or amended returns and pay all taxes, interest and accuracy-related penalties before August 31, 2011. Also, anyone who wants to participate should consult a tax lawyer to get clearance because if there is a current criminal investigation you can't participate.

The IRS has posted answers to frequently asked questions and a brief guide to the various stages of the initiative on its website

Since the IRS continues to investigate allegations that foreign owned banks have facilitated (or promoted) tax evasion by U.S. residents, its good to have a second chance.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Individual Mandate Is Two for Two -

The Health Care law's individual mandate to buy health insuance is now two for two. Two federal district courts have held that the provision is constitutional and two have held it is not. The argument revolves around whether the Commerce Clause can be used to regulate non-activity i.e. the failure to purchase health insurance. The issue is novel because the government has never before required individuals to buy a good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the U.S.

The freedom fighters, 26 states and various individuals are concerned that reading the Commerce Clause to allow Congress to require individuals to purchase health insurance would also permit Congress to regulate "any and all aspects" of our lives - including marriage. Where were these people when Congress passed DOMA? Congress has already passed a law that says who can be married under federal law so why is requiring people to buy insurance such a streach?