City A.M. Reporter
AMERICAN authorities will extend an amnesty program for taxpayers who have income hidden in offshore accounts by three weeks to 15 October, citing pleas from tax professionals who say they could not handle the numbers of individuals rushing to take part.<br /><br />The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)amnesty program began in March, soon after Swiss bank UBS turned over the names of some account holders as part of a $780m (£480m) criminal settlement with the US government. It is part of a broader crackdown on tax evaders as countries hunt for revenue in the global recession.<br /><br />IRS officials and lawyers have been saying for months that the response to the so-called voluntary disclosure program has been unprecedented. More than 3,000 taxpayers have come forward, compared with fewer than 100 for all of last year. “By extending the deadline for a short period of time, the IRS is providing relief for those who had intended to come forward prior to the deadline, but face logistical and administrative challenges in meeting it,” the agency said.<br /><br />The IRS said there would be no further extensions. The latest deadline was 23 September. In exchange for coming clean by deadline, individuals would pay back taxes and a reduced fine, while generally avoiding criminal prosecution.<br /><br />After months of tortuous negotiations, UBS agreed in August to disclose the names of 4,450 American holders of accounts at the bank.