A Californian pleaded guilty this week before the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, to willfully failing to disclose over $1 million held in offshore bank accounts. He and the bank also took other steps to hide and secretly access his funds. The man now faces up to five years in prison, supervised release, restitution, and other monetary penalties.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limits the annual federal tax deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000. In response to this limit, some states with higher tax rates (including California) considered programs that would allow taxpayers to characterize tax payments as charitable donations instead.
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. that reversed Quill's requirement for physical presence to establish sales tax nexus for out-of-state businesses. Individual states are now hurrying to decide upon economic or transactional thresholds to govern who should be collecting and paying over sales tax concerning primarily e-commerce sales.
Federal and California state tax agencies have offered relief to certain taxpayers affected by the 2018 wildfires in Northern California. The Internal Revenue Service will postpone specific deadlines, waive penalties, and provide other relief as detailed here. The California Franchise Tax Board's list of qualified disasters and instructions for claiming relief can be found at this link. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formerly the BOE) is also offering relief for businesses impacted by the fires, including extensions to file returns and relief from certain penalties or interest. Details on the specific CDTFA programs offering relief, and instructions for requesting relief, are available here.
The Department of Justice recently imposed another $5.3 million penalty on Bank Lombard Odier & Co., Ltd., a Swiss bank that has already paid over $99 million for offering offshore banking services to U.S. taxpayers without disclosing their transactions. Since Bank Lombard signed its first non-prosecution agreement in 2015, it has acquired 88 additional accounts, again without disclosing them as required.