Indian American groups seek relief on foreign bank accounts

July 30th, 2011 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, July 30 (IANS) Several Indian American civic and professional groups have sought President Barack Obama’s intervention in a joint campaign seeking relief on penalties stipulated by US tax rules on foreign bank accounts.

The July 19 letter to Obama by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), National Federation of Indian American Association (NFIA), American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) follows a similar plea from GOPIO to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The letter expresses the community’s concern that new US immigrants of Indian origin “are facing unfair and unprecedented penalties for failure to disclose and do tax filing of foreign bank accounts by August 31. Copies of the letter were also sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Geithner.

The joint letter affirmed the community’s recognition of the necessity for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to take needed actions and enact rules to track money flowing to terrorists, drug transaction and money laundering in safe havens outside the United States.

However, the groups urged the IRS to review and reconsider the rules towards “more practical and prudent application.”

The IRS announced Feb 8 a special voluntary disclosure initiative designed to bring offshore money back into the US tax system that will be available through August.

Among other things, the Indian community has requested that stipulated 25 percent Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) penalty on assets of law abiding citizens be eliminated and the IRS deadline for voluntary disclosure be extended to Dec 31, 2012.

The groups have also asked the government to publicise the amnesty programme in ethnic newspapers and other community media in multiple languages, as well through print, radio and television media interviews.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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