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Beware these 'dirty dozen' tax scams that can cost you big and even land you in jail

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Offshore tax cheating
Offshore tax cheating | MICHAEL BUHOLZER/Getty Images

Offshore tax cheating

There's nothing illegal about putting money into a foreign bank account. But putting it in a foreign bank account for the purpose of hiding money from the IRS by is illegal.

These so-called offshore accounts, as well as associated debit cards, credit cards and wire transfers, have cost the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars. So the IRS is continuing its crackdown on individuals it believes are evading U.S. taxes by hiding income outside the United States.

The agency is offering taxpayers with offshore accounts a chance to come clean with the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, reopened in 2012. Since the first program was introduced in 2009, tens of thousands of taxpayers have come forward to resolve their tax obligations.

"Offshore compliance remains a top IRS priority," says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We've collected $10 billion in back taxes in recent years, with 100,000 taxpayers making use of our voluntary disclosure programs."

For those who insist on keeping their foreign accounts secret, beware. The IRS and Department of Justice investigators are pursuing taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as the banks and bankers suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas.

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