Now that the government has reached a settlement with UBS, American tax evaders have until September 23 to reveal their overseas holdings or risk serious legal troubles if their names appear on the list UBS is preparing to turn over to the IRS. If taxpayers do decide to turn themselves into the amnesty program, they will still need to pay a fine but will not face criminal prosecution.
The IRS expects to find some tax evaders soon. UBS AG, the Swiss banking giant, agreed to hand over to the IRS the names of about 4,450 secret accounts as part of a court settlement reached last month.
"This is sort of their last, best chance if they are going to get off with lenient treatment," said Evan Stewart, a regulatory lawyer at the firm Zuckerman Spaeder.
"If you're sitting there and you've sheltered $50 million from the U.S. government, are you willing to gamble with the (list of) 4,500 (names) and live in terror for a year?" Stewart said.
The IRS said that, in one week of July, about 400 individuals turned themselves in under the amnesty program. That was four times higher than the number of tax evaders who stepped forward in all of 2008, according to the agency.