How to Find Offshore Bank Accounts in a High-Asset Divorce
Many people engage in hiding assets to avoid paying their fair share in equitable division of assets in divorce. It is surprisingly easy to hide money in an offshore account. This financial strategy can be done before filing for divorce to try to avoid splitting the assets fairly. Tax havens are easily established in locations such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, or Belize, where accounts can be hidden due to rules regarding account ownership confidentiality and privacy protections these locations provide.
How Offshore Accounts can be Found
If you believe your spouse may have hidden offshore accounts, a forensic accountant can be engaged to “follow the money,” and discover these accounts, and the estimated value. A spouse who has hidden funds in an offshore account and failed to list these accounts and the income gained from them on a tax return can face legal consequences – and so can the spouse, even when he or she did not know the accounts existed. It is imperative that you seek legal counsel to assist you with this process, as if you filed jointly, you could be at risk of some legal consequences yourself.
The process of finding these accounts could include:
- A full review of your spouse’s tax returns, as offshore accounts must be reported to the IRS on the yearly tax return.
- A forensic accountant can be engaged to look at money transfers and other banking information to track suspect money transfers that could indicate hidden offshore accounts.
- An investigation of the bank where offshore accounts may be hidden.
It is not illegal to have foreign bank accounts, but in a divorce, equitable division of assets requires revealing all assets, including those in offshore accounts. If you believe your spouse has hidden assets in offshore accounts, you need the help of a high-asset divorce attorney to assist you.
Penalties for Hiding Assets in Unreported Offshore Accounts
The division of marital property is an important matter in a high-asset divorce. One spouse may engage in various actions to attempt to reduce the value of an asset, such as transferring money to a family member, or more aggressive actions, such as closing joint accounts and moving money to accounts in their own name. These actions can be discovered with the help of a forensic accountant – and discovering these actions may be critical to your future financial health. If the person has not reported an offshore account, they may face serious legal problems, including owing penalties, back taxes, and other civil and criminal penalties. Unfortunately, if you signed a tax return, you may be swept into a problem that makes your life difficult.
If you believe your spouse has hidden offshore accounts, speak to a qualified, experienced divorce lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can review the facts and advise you whether engaging a forensic accountant is the right decision for you.
Divorce Lawyer for High-Asset Cases
Contact Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100 to discuss property division issues in divorce, including issues regarding hidden offshore accounts. You can trust us to zealously protect your rights and interests.