Financial Regulatory Forum

U.S. government to enhance municipal market regulation

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service has agreed to work more closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate the U.S. municipal bond market, the IRS said on Tuesday, adding the two federal agencies had signed memorandum of understanding.

“This memorandum reflects the commitment both agencies have in using all means possible to ensure the municipal bond market operates in accordance with all the laws that govern it,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement.

Under the agreement, the two agencies will identify issues and trends in the municipal securities industry and “enhance performance” in regulating the $2.8 trillion market.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has repeatedly said that she would like to create more investor protections in the municipal bond market, which is uniquely regulated.

Because of a part of securities law known as the Tower Amendment, the U.S. government cannot regulate how states and public entities sell their debt. Instead, it can only directly regulate the market’s broker-dealers and underwriters.

IRS to take “macro” approach on U.S. foreign bank law

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – Foreign banks will likely not need to identify holders of millions of U.S. accounts individually, a top U.S. tax official said, in the run-up to a new reporting law aimed at catching wealthy tax dodgers.

The law, expected to be passed by the U.S. Congress in coming months, would slap a 30 percent withholding tax on U.S. income of foreign financial institutions if they fail to report U.S. account holders, among other provisions.

It comes amid sharpened focus on wealthy Americans stashing funds abroad, in particular after a landmark settlement with the Swiss bank UBS AG  last year in which the bank admitted it actively helped Americans dodge billions in taxes.

Companies to disclose iffy tax estimates – IRS

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – U.S. tax authorities will soon demand that corporations reveal much more detailed financial information about tax shelters and other complex structures when they file their income taxes, the top U.S. tax official said on Tuesday.

Under new draft guidance, the Internal Revenue Service would require companies to report which tax positions they take that could be “uncertain” or challenged by the IRS.

“These taxpayers would be required to annually disclose uncertain tax positions in the form of a concise description of those positions and the maximum amount of U.S. income tax exposure if the taxpayer’s position is not sustained,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in remarks prepared for a speech to lawyers in New York in announcing the plan.

U.S. IRS proposes tax preparer regulations

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. tax agency will propose new rules to regulate paid tax preparers, including mandatory registration with the government and competency testing for those not already subject to professional exams.

With more than 80 percent of Americans using a tax preparer or software to complete their tax returns, the new rules are aimed at boosting standards within a fragmented industry and increasing revenue to the government, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a statement on Monday.

“It’s critical to taxpayers and it’s also critical to the revenues of the country,” Shulman said in a briefing with reporters.

EXCLUSIVE – U.S. revenue service hires “hundreds” for high-wealth tax cheat unit

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – A new U.S. Internal Revenue Service unit set up to catch rich tax cheats hiding their wealth in complex business entities is rapidly taking shape with the hiring of hundreds of employees.

The IRS high wealth unit, part of a broader effort to combat international tax evasion, is focusing on “the entire web of business entities controlled by a high wealth individual,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told a tax conference this week.

Another IRS official told Reuters “hundreds” of people have already been hired to staff the new unit, including some from within the agency.

U.S. offshore tax amnesty yields big response – IRS

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas Shulman speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Washington October 8, 2009. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Some 14,700 rich Americans worried about a U.S. government crackdown on offshore tax cheats came forward to participate in a tax amnesty program, the top U.S. tax official said on Tuesday.


Experts say US tax disclosure bill could deter foreign capital

By Karey Wutkowski
WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Tax experts on Thursday raised concerns that pending U.S. legislation to ramp up disclosure of offshore accounts could scare away foreign capital.


U.S. tax agency to randomly audit 6,000 firms on employment tax issues

By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – U.S. tax authorities will start to audit 6,000 randomly selected companies to focus on employment tax issues ranging from executive compensation to fringe benefits, Internal Revenue Service officials said.


U.S. serves tax probe subpoenas in NY area

By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – The U.S. government has served subpoenas on wealthy individuals in recent days in the New York area, targeting those who may have evaded taxes using offshore accounts at Swiss bank UBS AG, lawyers said on Wednesday.


U.S. tax bill demands reporting by banks, rich to fight offshore evasion

U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, smiles before the Committee passed the Democratic healthcare reform bill with a 14-9 vote, October 13, 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File Photo) REUTERS/Jason Reed  (UNITED STATES POLITICS HEALTH)  By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) – U.S. Democrats aim to stop rich Americans from hiding assets offshore to evade taxes by slapping penalties on individuals and foreign banks, according to legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.