* IRS unit targets rich Americans and their businesses
* Months-old unit in early stages -- IRS commissioner
* Shulman: Unit poised to grow with new agents, experts
(Adds further comments, context)
By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Oct 26 The U.S. Internal Revenue
Service's new global wealth unit will focus on taxpayers with
assets worth tens of millions of dollars who are sheltering
wealth through complex business entities, the IRS chief said on
The IRS unit, which started operations in recent months, is
part of a broader effort at the agency to combat international
tax evasion, and the unit will grow over time, IRS Commissioner
Doug Shulman told a meeting of the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants.
"We will take a unified look at the entire web of business
entities controlled by a high-wealth individual," Shulman told
the meeting. "At least initially, we will be looking at
individuals with tens of millions of dollars of assets or
The high-wealth unit will focus on trusts, real estate
investments, privately held companies and other business
entities controlled by rich individuals, Shulman said.
While use of sophisticated legal structures are at times
legal, there are other instances where they "mask aggressive
tax strategies," he said.
Tax authorities in Japan, Germany and the UK have also
created such divisions.
He said the agency is in the early stages of building the
An IRS spokesman could not quantify the projected growth in
the division to which Shulman alluded.
The IRS is opening new offices in Beijing, Panama City and
Sydney, to focus on funds flowing out of Europe and into Asia,
in part because of a heightened focus on international
enforcement in Europe, Shulman said.
At the center of the agency's offshore effort has been its
legal cases against Swiss banking giant UBS AG UBSN.VX, which
has agreed to turn over nearly 5,000 names of individual
American clients and paid $780 million to settle a criminal
case for aiding tax evasion.
The commissioner sought to differentiate between the
crackdown on rich individuals evading taxes and President
Barack Obama's budget proposals to change the rules that govern
how multinational corporations are taxed on overseas profits.
Obama has proposed raising more than $200 billion by
tightening international corporate tax rules.
On the corporate side, the agency is focusing on
corporations who push "tax planning beyond acceptable bounds,"
(Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Gary