U.S. v. ZWERNER: WILLFUL NON-FILINGS RESULT IN MONSTROUS CIVIL PENALTIES
United States v. Zwerner illustrates the potential for monstrous civil penalties resulting from willful failure to file F.B.A.R.’s. It further confirms the point that, if evidence of willfulness exists even in a sympathetic case, the I.R.S. may assert willful penalties in the case of “silent” or “quiet” disclosures, which the I.R.S. and its officials have consistently warned in official and non-official statements.
The facts of the case in brief are as follows:
From 2004 through 2007, Carl Zwerner, currently an 87-year-old Florida resident, was the beneficial owner of an unreported financial interest in a Swiss bank account that he owned indirectly through two successive entities. He did not report the income on the accounts for the period of 2004 through 2007, according to the complaint filed by the United States, but in his answer to the complaint, Zwerner, while admitting that he filed a delinquent F.B.A.R. for 2007, denied filing an amended return for that year, stating that his financial interest in the foreign account was reported on his timely-filed 1040 for that year. The complaint also alleged that, for 2006 and 2007, he represented to his accountant that he had no interest or signature authority over a financial account in a foreign country. Zwerner denied those allegations.