Tax evasion Feed

A Pennsylvania man said he didn't file 10 years' worth of federal tax returns because the forms required use of a Social Security number, which he considered analogous to the Biblical "mark of the beast." James Kerr Schlosser's 666 tax protest, however, didn't convince the Internal Revenue Service or the legal system. The 59-year-old Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, resident was convicted on March 7 of failing to report $2.3 million he earned as a medical equipment salesman. Foreign accounts, coins used in scheme: To evade the tax due on the millions, federal court papers show that Schlosser used foreign business trusts and... Read more →


Let me make this very clear from the get-go. I never, ever, ever recommend that anyone cheat on his or her taxes. But if you're inclined to be a bit aggressive with your Form 1040 strategies, your odds of catching a tax examiner's eye are decreasing. The Internal Revenue Service's audit rate has been dropping for years and that trend likely will continue, due in part to more agency funding cuts in the latest federal budget proposal. Fewer audits yet again: Recently released IRS data shows that in 2016 the number of individual audits dropped for the fifth straight year.... Read more →


Are you planning to catch up this weekend on some of this year's Academy Award winning movies you've yet to see? Me, too. But I'm also putting on my viewing list a newish flick, "Love & Taxes." Reel tax life: I'm not making this up. It's a real movie that, according to its website, is "a riveting comic tale of seven years of tax avoidance." OK. You probably want a less vested review. Here's what Ken Jaworowski had to say in Friday's New York Times: Likability goes a long way in "Love & Taxes," a comedy that relies on the... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


Although separation of church and state is a key constitutional tenet in the operation of the United States government, God regularly plays an unofficial role at tax filing time. There are those folks who take his name in vain as they struggle with a particularly complex part of the tax code. Guilty! Then there are those folks who seek his divine guidance in figuring out their annual tax liability. Or, once they've done that, pray for a miracle to pay what they owe. Guilty again! But religion shouldn't have any part in defending criminal tax evasion. That's not just my... Read more →


It's been 10 years since the Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower Office was created to reward those who turn in tax cheats. It's been a pretty good decade. In particular, notable advances were made last year, according to the Whistleblower Office's fiscal year 2016 annual report. More rewards, less money: The Whistleblower Office awarded more than $61 million to 418 whistleblowers in the last fiscal year. That's a 322 percent increase from fiscal 2015, in which only 99 total awards were paid. The number of whistleblower claims filed last fiscal year also was up 6.4 percent from those submitted the prior... Read more →


Most of us use credit and debit cards as convenient cash substitutes. Instead of reaching for wads of cash stuffed in pockets or purses or a paper checkbook, we simply whip out plastic to pay for almost everything or every service we need or want. Even micro businesses use mobile devices as mini non-cash registers to complete transactions. Yet most countries still print money. And those actual bills remain important to many. Some eschew credit cards for security reasons. They're afraid of become an identity theft victim. Similarly, others like the anonymity of a cash exchange for personal as well... Read more →


While the two major party presidential candidates have focused on corporations' overseas tax strategies, the Internal Revenue Service has been keeping an eye on individual taxpayers and their offshore accounts. Regardless of whether you call them tax havens, tax shelters or offshore accounts, they all mean $$$ for the IRS. And the IRS likes what it sees. Uncle Sam's tax agency announced last week that since it began its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, or OVDP, in 2009, it has collected $10 billion in taxes and had 100,000 taxpayers return to full federal tax compliance. The latest $10 billion in formerly... Read more →


Eighty-five years ago today -- Oct. 17, 1931 -- a federal jury in Chicago convicted gangster Al "Scarface" Capone of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, ultimately ending up in fabled Alcatraz. Al Capone's U.S. Department of Justice mug shot, taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. Keep that in mind if you're thinking of blowing off today's extended filing deadline for getting your 2015 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. All these years later, the IRS and Treasury still proudly point to Capone's conviction. It was T-men who put... Read more →


Many tax laws might be absurd, but overall, taxes are no laughing matter, especially when it comes to filers who use frivolous tax arguments. Some things crack up even Star Trek's usually stoic Data, but not frivolous tax arguments. The Internal Revenue Service defines frivolous tax arguments as misinterpretations or disregard of tax laws in order to evade paying taxes or claim refunds to which they aren't entitled. To date, the IRS has identified 50 frivolous tax arguments used by taxpayers. And those improper refunds have cost the U.S. Treasury -- and responsible taxpayers -- more than $27.2 million. Millions... Read more →


Donald Trump's revised tax plan, which many economists and tax experts have decried as the latest version of Republican supply-side economics, is still getting a lot of attention. The biggest criticism is that the tweaked tax proposal, despite Trump's populist spin, still gives ways too much to the wealthy. Just who would win and exactly how much in the Trump vs. Hillary Clinton tax battle will continue to be debated (though perhaps not formally…) until Nov. 8. Delaware, considered by many to be America's top domestic tax haven, welcomes drivers and taxpayers looking to keep money out of tax collector... Read more →


A married couple who helped the federal government collect more than $74 million from a tax criminal finally got their financial reward last week. U.S. Tax Court building in downtown Washington, D.C. On Aug. 3, after fighting for the whistleblowing payment for four years, the anonymous tax tattletales, referred to as Petitioner 21276-13W and Petitioner 21277-13W in court documents, were awarded $17,791,607. The U.S. Tax Court ruled the husband and wife deserved the nearly $17.8 million whistleblower award, which is this week's By the Numbers figure, despite the federal government's argument that the claim was outside the scope of the... Read more →


Dog lovers in Greece beware. That pooch you're petting could be working for the tax collector. Greece, which by some estimates is losing up to 16 billion euros ($17.62 billion U.S.) each year to tax evasion, is now looking for four-legged help. Dogs are assigned many tasks, like the ones the canines in this U.S. Army video are being trained to complete. Click image to watch what these Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois going through their military paces. Greek tax officials are recruiting dogs to sniff out potential tax dodgers who are hiding untaxed money, reports Reuters. Intertwined... Read more →


The 2016 Republican National Convention started today. So did the latest round of stories about what the GOP must do to make Donald J. Trump, its expected presidential nominee, more electable. Richard Hatch (far right, front row), winner of the first "Survivor" show in 2000, makes his case as a contestant in 2011 on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." Hatch was fired by The Donald, but some suggest Hatch's "Survivor" strategy could help Trump win the presidency. There's the typical approach of moving toward the political center. That the path that's been taken over the years by both Democratic and Republican... Read more →


Sports fans tend to be, well, fanatic. To many, it's what a player does during the game, not his or her off-field antics that matter. Moment of the Champions League final with FC Barcelona's Leo Messi, left, going against Patrice Evra of Juventus at Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 6, 2015. (Photo by Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons) That kind of no-questions-asked support was what the Barcelona football -- or soccer, as most Americans call the sport -- team was counting on in the wake of its star player's tax evasion conviction. Public outreach, tax backlash: Last week after Lionel... Read more →


If you have substantial funds in foreign bank accounts or investments, you may need to file a Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. And you need to do so by next Wednesday, June 30. That's a firm deadline. No filing extension is allowed. Because of the no-give for this filing, the due date earns this week's By the Numbers honor. FBAR triggers: The filing is known as the FBAR, which is a sort-of scrambled acronym for the form's name. Although the Internal Revenue Service is intensely interested in tracking potentially taxable money wherever in the world it's... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →


A little more than a month ago, inquiring tax eyes were focused on Panama. Specifically, folks were curious about a law firm in that Central American nation that allegedly helps the wealthy stash cash in global accounts that are out of reach of their nations' tax collectors. ICIJ has produced a video, The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore, that shows what the organization says are the unseen victims behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers and the shadowy offshore industry. A couple of U.S. states, Nevada and Wyoming, were named as international tax haven... Read more →


Brothels are legal in New South Wales, Australia, so officials there had no problem when Jamelie Lahood ran the Stiletto brothel for more than a decade until 2014. A room at Stiletto, a high-end brothel in Sydney, Australia. Photo from the bordello's Instagram account. However, Australian tax officials do take issue with the nearly $2 million ($1.5 million in U.S. currency) they say Lahood owes from her earnings as boss of the self-described "world's finest short stay boutique hotel and Sydney brothel." The money Lahood made operating Stiletto between 2008 and 2014 placed her among the top 0.1 percent of... Read more →


Last week, millions of last-minute filers got their returns to the Internal Revenue Service. As of April 22, the federal tax collector had 136.5 million returns in hand. The tax gap is kind of like the break in the old Florida Keys bridge: Something's missing (Photo by Ewen Robert via Flickr CC) The number of Americans who completed their annual tax duties by this year's April deadline(s) was slightly ahead of the 2015 filing pace. Before the year is over (and the 13+ million of us on extension get our returns in by Oct. 17), the IRS expects total filings... Read more →