Law Feed

I suspect everyone involved in this ceremonial big check delivery is much happier than they appear in this Secret Service photo. COVID-19 federal financial assistance was a boon to many businesses that struggled during the pandemic's height. Now it's Uncle Sam who's getting relief. The U.S. Secret Service today announced the return of around $286 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The loans were granted based on fraudulently submitted applications that contained fabricated or stolen employment and personal information. Debit cards to hide, move funds: The investigation was initiated by the Secret Service's... Read more →


Barclays Bank building in Madrid (Photo by M.Peinado from Alcalá de Henares, España - 001782 - Madrid, CC BY 2.0) It's not a crime to put your money into legitimate foreign financial institutions. However, if the amount meets a certain threshold, you are required to report that money to the U.S. government. When U.S. taxpayers ignore this process, officially known as filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR, they can face costly consequences. That's the case in the FBAR collection complaint filed Aug. 15 by federal officials seeking judgment against the defendant who, per the... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell Millions of Americans are displaying the U.S. flag today. Some, like my neighbors shown in the photo atop this post, planted poles for Old Glory and replicas in their yards, at the beginning of the long Independence Day holiday. Others fly the Stars and Stripes every day. If you're inclined to fly the U.S. flag any time, the following infographic has some tips from Uncle Sam himself — OK, USA.gov — and the Flag Code, officially Title 4, Chapter 1 of the U.S. Code. More flag tips and tidbits: Want to impress friends and family at... Read more →


Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA Dealing with the normal ups and, too frequently of late, downs of the stock market is enough of a worry. But things can quickly go even further downhill when crooks use fake investments to defraud victims. Not surprisingly, those criminals often get greedier and try to cheat Uncle Sam, too. Such overreach, however, didn't work out well for one California man. Robert Louis Cirillo of Chino Hills pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday, June 28, to charges of defrauding investors of $3.2 million, as well as scamming an elderly man of hundreds of thousands of... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio I'm later than usual posting today because the hubby and I finally cleaned a room that we've ignored for way too long. That meant it took longer than if we'd just dusted a bit more regularly. That's why I'm thinking of hiring a cleaning person. OK, I probably won't. I do think about it every time we do some major cleaning job, since I find housekeeping a total drag. Just ask the hubby. But I'm not really one for people I don't really know being in my house. Plus, if we do hire cleaning help, we... Read more →


A group working to repeal Washington state's recently enacted capital gains tax has abandoned its effort. It's not that the anti-tax group has changed its collective mind. It's still firmly against the tax. Rather, it has decided to rely on the courts to continue to rule that the levy is unconstitutional. Income tax issues: Washington, which is one of the nine states without an income tax, enacted a capital gains tax in 2021. That, said opponents, is an income tax, which is against the state's constitution. It took the matter to Evergreen State voters in a nonbinding ballot initiative last... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Whistleblower Office marked its 15th anniversary in fiscal year 2021 by making 179 awards to whistleblowers totaling more than $36 million. "Whistleblower claim numbers assigned in FY 2021 grew by 55% year over year, the second highest level of new claim numbers in the history of the program and claim closures also increased by 13%," wrote John Hinman, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, in the introduction to the office's 2021 Annual Report to Congress, released on June 10. Those tips led to the IRS collecting in fiscal 2021 more than $245 million, which includes almost... Read more →


U.S. Continental Navy ship Alfred at its commissioning at Philadelphia on Dec. 3, 1775, captured in this oil painting by W. Nowland Van Powell. America's earliest sailors also were the new nation's first whistleblowers. (Image courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command) Memorial Day and its surrounding weekend days are to honor those in the armed forces who gave their all to protect us and our country. But, thank goodness, the ultimate sacrifice isn't required in all cases. Sometimes other forms of protection are just as necessary to protect us and society at large against fraud, waste, and abuse of power.... Read more →


The 16-year tax fight between a former pizza franchise mogul and the state of Kansas is over. The Sunflower State owes Gene Bicknell $63 million. At least that's the amount that Bicknell, who at one time owned the most Pizza Huts in the world, says he's due from the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) after it erroneously taxed him as a Kansas resident when he lived in Florida. Kansas vs. Florida tax residence status: Bicknell's legal tax residency was at the heart of the multimillion-dollar tax matter. The KDOR said Bicknell was a Kansas resident. Bicknell, however, argued that his... Read more →


Crypto currency aficionados thought the worse thing happening to their holdings lately was the crashing market prices. Sorry. There's more. Tax investigators say they've discovered a possible $1 billion Ponzi scheme focusing on the crypto market. More than 50 potential crypto tax offences have been uncovered by international tax inspectors, according to reports out of a recent London conference of leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) countries. The J5 was created to fight transnational tax crime through increased enforcement collaboration. The participating tax agencies — the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), France's... Read more →


The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Yes, it's a cliché, one with an origin attributed to many. But for the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) this week, it applies. Finally. After 21 years as a fugitive, convicted tax felon Robin J. McPherson was once again in a U.S. federal courtroom. He had been evading the justice system since December 2000, when he and two co-codefendants were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and of tax evasion that totaled more than $1 million. But before his scheduled sentencing in March 2001, the former... Read more →


Photo by Kampus Production via Pexels. Here in Austin, we're in the midst of doing our civic duties. In between the March primaries and late May runoffs from inconclusive races in that voting session, residents of the Lone Star State's capital are deciding on a trio of ballot questions. Two deal with property taxes. The third asks, in part, if we Austinites would like to eliminate enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses. There's a statue of Willie Nelson in downtown Austin. What do you expect the result to be? Toking in Tejas: Joking aside, Austin is just one Texas city that's... Read more →


Imgur-Finextra Organized crowdfunding has been around for 25 years. It's helped people make ends meet, cover emergency expenses, make movies, support others in need. It's taken on a new life due to recent catastrophic events. During the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more than 175,000 GoFundMe campaigns were established in the United States for coronavirus-related needs. Now, as Ukrainians fight off Russian invaders, direct online contributions are flooding into efforts to aid the country's resistance and humanitarian efforts. Such expansion of financial transactions means, of course, that here in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, made an emotional plea to U.S. lawmakers for more help as his country battles Russian aggression. Screenshot of the address from C-SPAN broadcast. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke directly to members of the U.S. Congress this morning, urging them to do more to protect help his country's efforts to fight Russian invaders. At one point in the virtual speech, delivered remotely from his country's war-torn capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy called on President Joe Biden to be the world's "leader of peace." Hours after the emotional plea, Biden responded. He thanked Zelenskyy for his address, and pledged... Read more →


March Madness, the name of the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament, begins today. The betting on the games began Sunday, as soon as the 68 teams filling the brackets were announced. I'm not a big college sports fan, basketball included, so all I know about this year's tourney is that my alma mater is attending the Big Dance. Texas Tech's impressive roundball team, with its AP Big 12 Coach of the Year Mark Adams, will play its first game scheduled for Friday, March 18, afternoon. I'm rooting for the Tech team. However, I am not betting on the guys. No... Read more →


Some of my friends are done with COVID-19, and have taken to traveling again, both within the United States and abroad. I'm not quite there yet, but if it works for them and I'm not on their flight or cruise ship, good for them. Also good for those who are taking international trips. I get to see their social media photo travelogues, and I know they are being responsible taxpayers. If they owed a major debt to the Internal Revenue Service, which currently is deemed an unpaid tax bill of $55,000 or more, they likely would have had their passports... Read more →


Photo by Andea Piacquadio from Pexels Back in olden times, taxpayers put their literal signatures on the 1040 forms they filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Now, most of us electronically sign our tax returns. Regardless of which method you use, the end result is the same. If you don't sign your tax return, it's not a valid submission. That oversight cost one expatriate couple $12,697 in tax refunds. The loss recently was affirmed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling gets this weekend's Sunday Shout Out. I'll let you read it yourself. It's not that long (just nine... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit is my favorite section of the tax agency. Part of it is because I've always been fascinated by law enforcement. Add tax geek to the mix, and it's a natural fit. My investigative bent was bolstered when my first full-time job as a young newspaper reporter on the cop beat. Those West Texas police officers tried their best to intimidate and gross out this young woman. They failed. Many times, solving a crime also is like unravelling a mystery, especially when the crooks are inventive. As a life-long mystery fan, that component... Read more →


Thirsty New Yorkers celebrate Prohibition Repeal Day at a local, again legal, bar. Image from Las Vegas' National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, more popularly known as The Mob Museum, blog post on how Prohibition changed beer. Today's a big day for tax geeks and craft beer aficionados, as well as for lovers of fine (or cheaper; no judging here) wines and liquors. On Dec. 5, 1933, Prohibition ended with the passage of the 23rd amendment to the U.S. constitution. Whenever last century's 13-year booze ban is discussed, the focus naturally tends to be on the alcohol component.... Read more →


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels I know, it seems like it's all crypto all the time of late here at the ol' blog. But that's because that's what's happening right now in the tax world. There is, of course, the new tax reporting rules for digital assets, including cryptocurrency, that are part of the just-enacted transportation law. One of the reasons lawmakers approved the closer look by the Internal Revenue Service at digital transactions is because law enforcement officers have found the sector rife with criminal tax activity. It's not just anecdotal reports. OK, it is some anecdotal reports,... Read more →