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IRS focus on offshore tax evasion getting razor-sharp

There's nothing intuitively wrong about Americans holding money in overseas accounts, of course, provided that the Internal Revenue Service is privy to all material details.

The IRS is unquestionably a jealous mistress where tax-related matters are concerned, with nothing quite like an agency suspicion that payments are unlawfully being avoided to spur an official probe and, sometimes, a criminal indictment for tax fraud or evasion.

Reportedly, about nine million Americans live outside the United States, with only about one in every nine of those individuals formally declaring last year that they maintain money overseas in foreign accounts.

It would be sheer understatement to merely note that such a low percentage is of interest to IRS officials.

Frankly, it equates to a bulls-eye that the agency's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is now squarely focused upon and aiming at.

Don Fort, who is a ranking CI official, vows to "follow the money and see where it leads."

IRS officials are not shy in voicing their belief that the money trail in many instances likely leads from recently emptied Swiss accounts to, well, somewhere else. The agency is conducting a mass probe into locales and financial institutions where it is conceivably deposited.

The momentum driving the agency's tax-evasion probe and subsequent criminal and civil actions pursued against alleged wrongdoers has strengthened materially in recent years. A recent article on the subject notes that the IRS is "deploying agents to examine reams of data collected from the Panama Papers, Swiss banks and whistleblowers."

Fort pledges to commit "significant resources" to the agency's efforts to uncover and prosecute tax evaders.

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