August 19, 2011
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: X-11 August 19, 2011
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GOPIO is a community supported non-profit organization taking up issues of the Indian Diaspora and attempting to unifying the community in its common causes. Support GOPIO by becoming a Life Member or chapter member. Once can become Life Member online by visiting


In response to the letter delivered to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner by GOPIO on June 27, 2011, the Department of the Treasury has responded on as follows:


The 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) "provides a way for taxpayers with undeclared assets offshore to resolve their tax problems. The terms of the OVDI require taxpayers to pay the following penalties:

  • A 20 percent accuracy-related penalty under section 6662 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code);
  • A failure-to-file penalty under section 6651 (a)(1) of the Code;
  • A failure-to-pay penalty under section 6651 (a)(2) of the Code; and
  • An offshore penalty equal to 25 percent of the highest aggregate balance in foreign bank accounts and entities or the value of foreign assets during the period covered by the voluntary disclosure in lieu of all other penalties that may apply, including FBAR and offshore-related information return penalties.

"The OVDI terms already lower the offshore penalty down to 12.5 percent or 5 percent in some circumstances. Further, under no circumstances will a taxpayer have to pay a penalty greater than what he or she would otherwise be liable for under the maximum penalties imposed under existing statutes. If the offshore penalty is unacceptable to a taxpayer, he or she may opt out of the OVDI and request that we refer the case for an examination of all relevant years and issues."


In response to GOPIO request for the extension of deadline to December 31, 2011, the Department of the Treasury has responded in the same letter as follows:


"At this time, we do not contemplate granting an across-the-board deadline extension for all taxpayers. However, a specific taxpayer can request an extension of the deadline (up to 90 days) to complete his or her submission if the taxpayer can demonstrate a good faith attempt to fully comply with the OVDI requirements on or before August 31, 2011. The request must be in writing and must include a statement of the items that are missing, the reasons why, and the steps he or she is taking to secure them".


In response to GOPIO's complaint that the OVDI has not been publicized in ethnic newspapers and other community media in multiple languages, the Department of the Treasury has responded in the same letter as follows:


"We have promoted OVDI awareness by posting information about the OVDI in eight foreign languages, including Hindi, on IRS.GOV. We have also released information through traditional media, both national and local, as well as social media websites such as Twitter. We will continue this extensive outreach effort as the August 31, 2011, deadline nears."


However, the Indian community groups are of the opinion that OVDI announcement was not been published well within the new immigrant communities who were affected by the new rules. The four organizations namely, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) along with Federation of Indian Community Associations of Cleveland (FICA), Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of NY/NJ/CT have decided to continue their collaborative efforts with the hope that the Department of Treasury may reconsider and provide relief in respect of various demands put forth in the July 19, 2011 letter submitted to the President of United States.


The coordination group has appealed to the Indian American community to post note to the White House at or write to your Congressman and Senators.







A delegation of Indian community representative under the aegis of the National Indian American Coordinating Council met the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials to convey community's concerns ans distress regarding the new Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) adn the way in which ti has been implemented. The delegation headed by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and Chairman Emeritus of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), included Mr. Lal Motwani, President of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), Mr. Shailesh Patel, Director at Large of Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and Dr. Maya Chadda of GOPIO and Council on Foreign Relations.

The meeting at the IRS headquarters in Washington, DC was arranged by the office of Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. IRS was represented by Ms. Rosemary Sereti, Director of International Individual Tax Compliance; Attorney Advisors to Deputy Commissioner Ms. Jennifer Beth and Mr. David Vorley, and Legislative Counsel Suzanne R. Sinno of the Office of the Legislative Affairs.

In the meeting the Indian community delegation stressed the following points:

First they stressed that their collective survey of the Indiana American community revealed a very high level of distress verging on panic for the following 

1. Most have only recently found out that they are in violation of the IRSrequirements of the voluntary disclosure of foreign accounts and income.Information has been sketchy and almost no one knew what the procedure wasto come under the 2011 amnesty program. Those who found out only recently are leftwith no time to file before august 31 2011. Nor are they aware that they need a clearance from the Treasury Department for entering the amnestyprogram. The delegation made the IRS officials aware of this drawing on real lifeexamples and explained why the community is distressed and confused.

2. People who are caught between the lack of information and lack of time arenot willfully violating the tax law. The delegation in fact pointed out thatthere were broadly two categories of people who are in this situation, thosewho have sent money to help their extended families in India, supportingaging parents, finance children's education and that of siblings and youngermembers of the extended family. Transfer of money for these reasons wasnatural for the first generation immigrants. Culturally Asian Americans, Indians in particular, are intensely family oriented. The second categoryincluded people who have worked, saved and are sending money in preparationof retirement. This usually takes the form of property and alliedinvestments. These monies are also usually after tax monies.


The delegation stressed that the way in which the penalty is imposed, i.e. 25 percenton the highest balance over the eight years span, was totally out ofproportion to the presumed willful violation. Such a level of penulty itself violates theprinciple of proportionality on which the US law rests. The penulty therefore violates the 8thamendment of the US constitution and the case law precedents it has set. If the penalty was reasonable, more tax payers will comply. It is obviously in the Interest of the IRS to promote wider compliance of the tax laws.


3. The third point was about the way the IRS has implemented the amnestyprogram. After entering the program, the tax payees or their accountantsonly deal with agents who are given no power to separate willfulnon-compliance from innocent non-compliance. They simply administer the lawand impose punishing penalty. Even If the tax payer has genuine groundsfor failing to disclose, the agents are not allowed to use their discretion. This will punish the innocent, in fact the bulk of the community who are law abiding citizens and have regularly paid their dues to the IRS.

 Indian Anerican community representatives with US IRS Officials

Photo above: Indian American community Representatives meet with IRS officials on the OVDI issue. From L. to R.: Shailesh Patel, David Vorley, Rosemary Sereti, Jennifer Beth, Lal Motwani, Dr. Maya Chadda and Dr. ThomasAbraham

The delegation suggested that as a first and immediate step, the IRS can take a step to empower the agents with discretionary judgement.

The delegation also shared the fear of being singled out among the groups astargets of IRS inquiry.

They suggested that penalty should be levied on non-reported income and notfor non-disclosure.

The IRS responded that for those who believe themselves to be innocent of violation have the choice of opting out of OVDI but they would still have to make full disclosure under the August 31 2011 amnesty program. That would expose them to scrutiny but if their case was genuine, (for example the delegation pointed out to the IRS officials that if the interest income during the process of supporting children/siblings education and of buying a retirement home is small amount compared to the estimated penalty), they may escape penalty or pay a much smaller percentage of penalty. In the simpler cases of non-disclosure, the tax payer can represent themselves to the agent after filing all amended statements during the opt-out procedure.


For more information: Contact the following national organizations:


Global Organization of People of Indian Origin

 GOPIO International, New York, NY

Contact: Inder Singh, Chairman

Tel: 1-818 708-3885, E-mail:





National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), Bellrose, NY

Contact: Lal K. Motwani, President

Tel: 1-646 724-1153, E-Mail:




American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

(AAPI), Oak Brook, IL

Contact: Sunita Kanumury, MD, President

Tel: 1-630 990-2277, E-mail:





Asian American Hotel Owners Association

(AAHOA), Atlanta, GA

Contact: Hemant D. Patel, Chairman &

Fred Schwartz, President


Tel: 1-404 816-5759, E-mail:




GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.


GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.


GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website (



GOPIO Chairman - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

GOPIO President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787,

GOPIO Executive Vice President - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail:



To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at or fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO International, PO Box 560117, New York NY 11356, USA.

and get details of chapter initiation (visit Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more.  For more information, contact:


Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and Chairman Emeritus, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO Executive Vice President (New York, USA)

Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Hyderabad, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)


GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related news items from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail:

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