The J5 Continues its Efforts to Identify International Tax Cheats

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Matthew L. Roberts

Matthew L. Roberts



Mr. Roberts is a Principal of the firm. He devotes a substantial portion of his legal practice to helping his clients successfully navigate and resolve their federal tax disputes, either administratively, or, if necessary, through litigation. As a trusted advisor he has provided legal advice and counsel to hundreds of clients, including individuals and entrepreneurs, non-profits, trusts and estates, partnerships, and corporations.

Having served nearly three years as an attorney-advisor to the Chief Judge of the United States Tax Court in Washington, D.C., Mr. Roberts leverages his unique insight into government processes to offer his clients creative, innovative, and cost-effective solutions to their tax problems. In private practice, he has successfully represented clients in all phases of a federal tax dispute, including IRS audits, appeals, litigation, and collection matters. He also has significant experience representing clients in employment tax audits, voluntary disclosures, FBAR penalties and litigation, trust fund penalties, penalty abatement and waiver requests, and criminal tax matters.

Often times, Mr. Roberts has been engaged to utilize his extensive knowledge of tax controversy matters to assist clients in their transactional matters. For example, he has provided tax advice to businesses on complex tax matters related to domestic and international transactions, formations, acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, spin-offs, liquidations, and partnership divisions.

In addition to federal tax disputes, Mr. Roberts has represented clients in matters relating to white-collar crimes, estate and probate disputes, fiduciary disputes, complex contractual and settlement disputes, business disparagement and defamation claims, and other complex civil litigation matters.

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known as the “J5”) has been busy the last few months.  The group – compromised of tax department heads from Australia, England, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States – was formed in June 2018 to facilitate the sharing of information regarding international tax cheats.  A summary of some of their more recent activities follows:

  1. On June 5, 2019, the J5 announced they were involved in more than 50 investigations of individuals and entities they believed were engaged in international tax evasion.
  2. On November 8, 2019, the J5 hosted the “Challenge” in Amsterdam, which brought together each country’s “leading data scientists, technology experts and investigators in a coordinated push to track down those people who make a living out of facilitating and enabling international tax crime.” Notably, the J5 indicated that they were sharing intelligence regarding their respective monitoring of computer users on websites the J5 had identified as promoters of tax evasion.
  3. On January 23, 2020, the J5 coordinated a global “day of action,” which included execution of search warrants, interviews, and subpoenas, as part of a series of investigations in multiple countries regarding a financial institution located in Central America. The J5 indicated that the international institution (i.e., the target) was being used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion on behalf of its customers across the globe.
  4. On February 18, 2020, the J5 announced that the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service arrested two men in connection with criminal investigations for suspicion of money laundering through the use of cryptocurrencies.
  5. On February 19, 2020, the J5 met in Sydney, Australia to review the J5’s progress and set new priorities for the year. The J5 also noted that the results of the January 23, 2020, investigation were successful in that the J5 had obtained “significant information,” which was being shared amongst the group.

The attorneys at Freeman Law have discussed in numerous Insights the IRS’ seemingly boundless methods of collecting information related to United States persons’ foreign assets.  (Swiss Bank Program; Paradise Papers; International Tax Enforcement; IRS Dirty Dozen: Offshore Tax Evasion).  Predictably, the IRS continues to search actively for these assets because of the stakes involved, i.e., once found, the IRS can impose substantial penalties against the United States person for failure to report such assets on annual information returns (e.g., FBARs, Forms 8938, Forms 3520, Forms 5471, etc.).  Moreover, under the right set of circumstances, the IRS recognizes that it can push for criminal sanctions against the United States person, particularly if the person failed to file information returns and foreign-sourced income on his or her federal income tax returns.

But as discussed in a recent Freeman Law Insight (The IRS’s Updated Voluntary Disclosure Program), the IRS offers a voluntary disclosure program, which can provide substantial protection from criminal liability (in addition to potentially reducing the associated civil tax liabilities) for those United States persons who choose to take advantage of it.  Regrettably, the voluntary disclosure program only extends to United States persons who file voluntary disclosures with the IRS prior to the IRS discovering the non-compliance.  Thus, with the IRS continuing to actively utilize overseas discovery methods such as its participation in the J5, it is important for United States persons with overseas assets who are not in compliance with the federal tax laws to discuss their options quickly with a professional tax attorney.


International and Offshore Tax Compliance Attorneys 

Need help with tax issues? Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your rights and the ways we can assist in your defense. We handle all types of cases, including complex international & offshore tax compliance. Schedule a consultation or call (214) 984-3000 to discuss your international tax concerns or questions.