Podcast – The Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published November 24, 2020.

The Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation, and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “What does the Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code Mean?” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Tax Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson, and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation, and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “What does the Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code Mean?”
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Litigation Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our law firm’s Immigration Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz will be asking the questions and I will be giving the answers as she and I will be discussing: “What does the Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code Mean?”

Reyna Munoz Introduces Herself to the Audience:

  • Hi everyone, I am Reyna. I am the Immigration Legal Assistant at the tax, litigation and immigration law firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Right here in Dallas, Texas.
  • Hi Attorney; today we will be discussing the topic: What does the Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code Mean?

Question 1:

  • Well, attorney what does the long-arm of the U.S. Tax Code mean anyway?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Good morning Reyna. I think this is a fascinating topic; so let’s get started!
  • United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (or commonly known as Green Card Holders) are required to pay taxes on their gross income, regardless of where it is earned or how it is earned in the world.  That basic rule is established in United States Code, Section 61(a); and explained in 26 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1.1-1(b).
  • So, to answer your question, that is why it is often said by tax professionals that the U.S. tax code has long arms.  It can reach U.S. citizens and Green Card holders and their gross income from anywhere in the world.  These are very long-arms indeed!

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

Question 2:

  • That is interesting! How would the United States Government find out about this gross income and these foreign interest of U.S. citizens and Green Card Holders?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson


  • S. citizens and Green Card Holders have a legal duty to voluntarily file appropriate tax returns and other informational materials with the U.S. government reporting their gross income and interests in financial accounts held overseas. Federal tax returns must be filed annually to report gross income (such as, Form 1040 (individuals), Form 1065 (Partnerships), Form 1120 (Corporations), Form 1041 (Estates).  All of these tax forms are filed with the Internal Revenue Service when applicable.  Further U.S. citizens and Green Card Holders with ownership interest or signatory authority of foreign accounts must complete Schedule B, Part III, Line 7 of Form 1040 their individual tax return discussing their interest or signatory authority over any foreign account during the tax period; and moreover, in the event the balance in any single account or combination of foreign accounts is greater than $10,000 during the tax period, the taxpayer must also file an FBAR with the Financial Crimes Network.
  • It will not be hard for the U.S. Department of Treasury to find out about taxpayers reporting obligations today with the technology that is in existence. In fact, it is easier today than ever for information to be shared by business entities, governmental entities and individuals in seconds around the world.
  • The U.S. Treasury has negotiated operating and reporting agreements with governments around the world to share directly or indirectly financial banking information of U.S. citizens and Green Card holders.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

Question 3:

  • What can happen if a U.S. Citizen fails to report all of their gross income and fail to report their ownership interest in a foreign bank account?
  • First what is a foreign bank account anyway?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • A foreign bank account is an account in a foreign institution, or an institution physically located outside of the borders of the U.S. and its territories. Branches of U.S. domiciled banks located overseas are not classified as a foreign bank for FBAR reporting purposes or IRS purposes.
  • Individuals who fail to comply with U.S. laws can expect there to be a gradation of criminal and civil exposure. What I mean by that is in the United States criminal penalties and civil penalties for violation of the law are graded based on level of culpability.  This is also true with regards to failure to voluntarily comply with the U.S tax laws.  The U.S. tax code imposes varies kinds of penalties for violations, such as tax evasion, failure to file penalties, negligent filing penalties.
  • As for failure to report interest in foreign accounts, the IRS is permitted to assess and collect civil penalties against any individual who fails to report their interest in a foreign account on a timely filed FBAR.
  • I have written numerous blogs with regards to the penalty structure designed to hold tax cheats accountable.

 Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant


  • Attorney what could you at least explain what you mean by gradation of penalties?

Attorney Answers Question 4:

  • Okay, very well! Let me briefly describe what gradation of penalties means as it relates to failure to file a required FBAR.
  • If an individual’s failure to file an FBAR is deemed willful by the IRS, then the IRS has the discretion to assess a maximum penalty of $100,000 or 50 percent of the balance in the foreign account at the time of the violation. Whichever is higher is the collectable penalty.
  • Willfulness does not require actual knowledge of the duty to report interest in a foreign account. Reckless or careless disregard of their statutory duty to report their ownership or beneficiary interest in the foreign account is enough for the IRS assess and collect the penalty.
  • The IRS has been challenged in Courts around the country, and they have a pretty good betting record on winning the willfulness FBAR cases. Come on, just look; these cases are what lawyers routine call document cases. For example, (1) it’s easy to prove whether someone is a U.S. citizen or Green Card Holder because there is a U.S. birth Certificate or Naturalization  Certificate or Lawful Permanent Resident Card; (2) it’s easy to prove that the account is located outside of the U.S. and its territories because there are bank account statements; and (3) it’s easy to prove that the taxpayer filed a tax return failing to list the foreign bank account because there is Schedule B, Part III, Line 7 of IRS Form 1040.  Hey, three strikes and you are out.  Willfulness to violate the FBAR rules is not a very high burden for the IRS to carry in these FBAR violation cases.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

Question 5:

  • Okay Attorney that sounds like three strikes. It might be hard to hit the ball.  But what about—
  • If the taxpayer hired a professional tax return preparer to prepare and file, the return? Could the taxpayer now say it was none willful?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson


  • Well it depends on all the facts and circumstances as to whether a skillful negotiated and advocate could make out a defense.
  • But the main thing everyone should take away is this:
  • Taxpayers are deemed to have constructive knowledge of and responsibility for the contents of their tax returns which are signed under penalty of perjury.
  • Where immigrants are involved who lacks the knowledge of the English language, cultural norms in terms of voluntary tax reporting, educational challenges and other capacity factors, in these circumstances skillful advocacy might manage to turn what appears to be a willful violation into a none willful violation of U.S. law. People with foreign gross income and foreign account interest need to do their due diligence in picking tax professionals in preparation of U.S. tax returns and compliance with FBAR requires because the penalties for failing to comply are rough regardless of the gradation of the penalties.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

Question 6:

  • Okay, I think I understand.
  • Attorney, you mentioned voluntary disclosure. Is there a way a person can get this right even after they failed to property report their gross income or foreign account?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson


  • Yes, the IRS has voluntary disclosure programs. But the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program or OVDP has ended and the IRS is no longer accepting taxpayers’ disclosures for failing to report foreign accounts under that program.
  • The various Streamlined Procedures Programs are still viable; but only if the violation is non willful. I have written blogs on this in the past and will not go into any more details here; other than, the taxpayer must make sure their actions were none willful because the IRS audits these submissions and if the IRS deems the actions of the taxpayer were willful violations rather than none willful violations, they could make a referral to IRS Criminal Investigations for possible referral to the U.S.  Justice Department.
  • The IRS also still have a FBAR only disclosure program that might be used by some taxpayers under appropriate circumstances.
  • Mayra, thanks for your questions on this topic. We have numerous blogs on foreign accounts on our law firm’s blog site.   We must go for now.

Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:


  • Thank you for giving us the opportunity to inform you about What does the Long-Arm of the United States Tax Code Mean?”
  • We might discuss other aspects of this topic on gross income and foreign accounts matters in follow up podcasts or blogs in the near future.  If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C., subscribe to our podcast and stay tune!  We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate, and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation, and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

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