IRS reviving program seeking offshore tax cheats

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service is reviving a program that lets Americans who are hiding their assets overseas avoid criminal charges by paying their back taxes plus penalties.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman says that similar efforts in 2009 and 2011 have so far netted $4.4 billion for the government as 33,000 people came clean on their taxes.

Those coming forward under the new program will face penalties of up to 27.5 percent of the assets they had stashed abroad, and will have to pay their taxes plus interest.

By coming forward, they avoid the possibility of criminal prosecution, which could result in jail time and even higher penalties.