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Yes, Americans can still hide bank accounts offshore

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The U.S. government has worked hard over the past decade to stop Americans from hiding bank accounts offshore to evade taxes.

But not hard enough. It has become more difficult to maintain secret accounts, but it’s still happening, as recent examples show.

People who have dual citizenship, minimal connections to the U.S. and a willing accomplice at a bank have the easiest time. But even those who are solely American citizens can get away with offshore accounts by using complicated trusts or soliciting family members overseas. Having an account offshore isn’t illegal, but not disclosing it to the Internal Revenue Service is.

Former Credit Suisse Group AG bankers recently accused the bank of continuing to help American clients hide accounts from the IRS despite paying a big fine in 2014 and promising to stop. A handful of smaller Swiss banks have also updated their agreements with the U.S. Justice Department and paid additional fines after disclosing more undeclared accounts.

And more cases are probably slipping through the cracks. America’s tax gap (the difference between what’s owed the government and what’s actually collected) is even higher than the estimated $600........

© The Japan Times

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