Wealthy tax cheats: Time to fess up to the IRS?

Now that the IRS has won its case against UBS, some unknown portion of the 52,000 names of U.S. clients will be turned over. The actual number of names is being kept secret. In fact, reports indicate that the IRS does not plan to disclose the number of names (speculation has put that number between 5,000 and 10,000), nor to disclose the process by which the names will be picked for disclosure.

So if you do have offshore deposits with UBS (UBS), or had them in the past, you need to decide whether or not to fess up. If you don't and get caught you can face stiff penalties and even criminal charges. In a previous settlement the IRS got about 250 names from UBS and so far, three have pleaded guilty in federal court. Since the IRS only has enough funds to prosecute about 1,000 criminal tax cases each year, wealthy tax evaders wonder if they should play the odds or take advantage of the IRS amnesty program in effect until Sept. 23. If they wait and aren't among the names turned over, they can avoid the taxes and penalties completely.