Bloomberg BNA is reporting that two prominent Phoenix businessmen were each sentenced to 10 months in prison for their roles in a scheme to stash more than $8 million in secret offshore Swiss bank accounts and for not reporting income from those accounts to the Internal Revenue Service (United States v. Kerr, D. Ariz., No. 2:11-cr-02385). Stephen Kerr and Michael Quiel were convicted April 12 of two counts of filing false individual income tax returns for 2007 and 2008. Kerr was also convicted of two counts of failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

“This is a surprisingly-low sentence,” said Jim Mastracchio, Co-Chair of BakerHostetler’s Tax Controversy Practice and a member of the firm’s Criminal Tax Defense Practice. Both the government and the U.S. Probation Office calculated the Sentencing Guidelines range as 51-63 months. “With the government asking for a sentence of 60 months and the Probation Office recommending a sentence of 51 months, a sentence of 10 months is very lenient, especially since the conviction included a criminal FBAR violation.” Taxpayers may be able to make a voluntary disclosure with the IRS and avoid any criminal prosecution associated with off-shore bank accounts.