The program was launched in 2009 and has undergone various iterations since then. Since its inception, more than 56,000 taxpayers have come forward to report overseas accounts they previously had not disclosed.
While most of those taxpayers have avoided substantial fines and criminal charges by reporting their foreign holdings, they have paid $11.1 billion collectively in back taxes, interest and lesser penalties in the process.
The IRS has made tax evasion via overseas accounts a priority. While legitimate reasons exist for having financial accounts in other countries, taxpayers are required to report those assets to the U.S. government.
For starters, taxpayers whose foreign accounts reach an aggregate value of $10,000 or more during the calendar year must file a so-called FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts). Willfully failing to file an FBAR can result in a civil penalty as high as $100,000.