12,000 tax cheats come clean under IRS program

WASHINGTON (AP) ? The Internal Revenue Service says 12,000 tax cheats have come clean under a program that offered reduced penalties and no jail time to people who voluntarily disclosed assets they were hiding overseas.

The IRS has long had a policy that certain tax evaders who come forward can avoid jail time as long as they agree to pay back taxes, interest and hefty penalties. But few people apply for the program in a typical year, in part because the penalties can far exceed the value of the hidden account.

The disclosure program offered reduced penalties but still required taxpayers to pay back taxes. A total of 30,000 people have come clean under the new program and a similar one offered in 2009. The latest program ended last week.