Law Feed

Winston Shrout giving a financial seminar via YouTube before his recent tax legal troubles. Winston Shrout believes he's an alien with Biblical origins who was sent to Earth to destroy a particular group of Catholics. Shrout's also a convicted tax evader. Last week, a Portland judge determined that despite Shrout's out-there delusions, the 70-year-old is competent to face sentencing on guilty verdicts on 13 counts of issuing fake financial documents to banks and six counts of willful failure to file tax returns. During his 2017 trial, prosecutors introduced evidence showing that between 2009 and 2014, Shrout earned $562,224 from a... Read more →


There won't be many bets on the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl next February. Odds makers say that possibility is a 30-to-1 longshot. I'm a fan of the 'Boys and I think that's being way too optimistic! (Cowboys playing Detroit Lions in Dallas by Kay Bell) Professional football fans are ready for some football as the NFL's 2018 season kicks off tonight. And the league itself may finally be ready for some legal gambling on its sport. The reason is, of course, money. Billions in betting-related revenue: National Football League could pocket an added $2.3 billion a year... Read more →


New York Giants fan chow down at a pre-NFL game tailgate party. (Photo by Ben Vardi via Wikipedia Commons) College football begins in full force this Labor Day weekend. The professional pigskin players kick off the 2018 season on Thursday, Sept. 6. That means crazy body paint, tons of tailgating and betting. Yes, although professional sports leagues and especially the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hate to admit it, gamblers put down billions on games every year. Most of those wagers have been, and will continue to be, placed illegally despite the May 14 decision by the Supreme Court of... Read more →


The courthouse where a federal jury on Aug. 21 found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges, including five tax evasion counts. Could he also face state charges? (Photo via Google Earth) It's the day after bombshell revelations in two federal courtrooms and the political and tax world is still abuzz. Almost simultaneously on Tuesday, Aug. 21, afternoon, two of Donald J. Trump's former presidential campaign officials faced serious legal judgments in two separate courtrooms. In New York City, Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight federal felony counts of tax and bank fraud, as well as campaign finance law... Read more →


After years of being lambasted for efforts to regulate tax preparers, the Internal Revenue Service is on a roll in its efforts to oversee certain tax professionals. A recently introduced bipartisan Senate bill would give the IRS the authority that many argue it doesn't have to set standards for tax professionals who aren't subject to other professional guidelines. This is not the first time such legislation has been introduced. But those previous bills never went anywhere. However, the tide now seems to be shifting a bit in the tax agency's favor. Influential tax professional groups are among this latest legislative... Read more →


Money courtesy Pictures of Money via Flickr Most of us can't afford extravagant wardrobes. And we own, at most, one house. But for many of us, there's one thing that most of us share with lavish-living Paul J. Manafort. We, like the former lobbyist and political consultant, are not fans of paying taxes, especially really big Internal Revenue Service bills. Rick Gates, Manafort's former right-hand man, today told jurors hearing the tax evasion and bank fraud charges against his former boss that Manafort disliked paying a lot of taxes. But, I hope, that we aren't following Manafort's alleged method to... Read more →


Al "Scarface" Capone at his sentencing for tax evasion. Back in the Prohibition Era, federal agents — notably those from the Internal Revenue Service — took down the notorious gangster. The tax agency's armed Criminal Investigation agents are still on the job. (Photo courtesy All That's Interesting: 25 Al Capone Facts) Paul Manafort's tax evasion (and bank fraud) trial is shining a spotlight, at least in the tax world, on the Internal Revenue Service's unit that goes after tax criminals. In most cases, like that of Donald J. Trump's former campaign manager, it's white collar tax crime. U.S. taxpayers don't... Read more →


When you hire a tax professional, you want someone you can trust. In Paul Manafort's case, that apparently meant someone he trusted to file fraudulent returns. The accountant for former Donald J. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told jurors hearing the bank fraud and tax evasion charges against the long-time political operative that she helped backdate documents and falsify financial records. Cynthia Laporta, who has been given limited immunity for her testimony, said the accounting maneuvers suggested by Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates, who's also working with the prosecution and expected to eventually testify in the case,... Read more →


Paul J. Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial is underway. Three guesses, and two don't count, of what's of most interest to me. The proceedings in the Alexandria, Virginia, federal courtroom got off to a fast start. The prosecutors told the jury of six men and six women they would prove Manafort "believed the law did not apply to him." The former chairman of Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign is facing in this trial 18 counts alleging he hid more than $30 million in overseas income by funneling it through offshore accounts, lying to banks and evading taxes. One of... Read more →


Rep. Bob Goodlatte opens the hearing on what Congress should do about interstate sales taxes and remote sellers in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that upended prior standards. (House Judiciary hearing video screenshot) If you thought the interstate collection of sales taxes from remote sellers was going to get easier following the recent high court ruling on the matter, think again. Now Congress is getting involved. Again. And if you thought any decision on how federal lawmakers should address the thorny issue of taxes and interstate commerce would be easy, think, yes, again. Long and winding remote sales... Read more →


As expected, states whose residents will take a major federal tax hit under the new $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local tax (SALT) payments have headed to court. Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday (July 17) afternoon filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking to invalidate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's (TCJA) changes to a long-standing federal tax deduction. In this latest semi-reform of the tax code, Congress essentially gutted the value of this itemized tax deduction for, in most cases, the millions in state income and local real property payments... Read more →


Judge Brett Kavanaugh spoke at the White House after being nominated to be the next Supreme Court justice. (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen via White House Instagram) Federal judge Brett Kavanaugh was tapped last night (July 9) by Donald J. Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, a position for which he was nominated by the last Republican Oval Office occupant, President George W. Bush. Like Trump's prior Supreme Court justice nominee, Neil... Read more →


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) places the state's first legal sports bets on June 14 at Monmouth Park Racetrack. (Screenshot from AP coverage. Click image to view full video.) New Jersey's governor put his money behind the Garden State's new sports betting option. Now he's paying for that. New Jersey started taking bets on sporting events on June 14, a month after the Supreme Court ruled in the state's favor and three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law making his and, N.J. establishments hope, millions of other such wagers legal. The debut of the new sports betting... Read more →


U.S. Supreme Court photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC Sorry most* U.S. shoppers. Whether you buy from your main street brick-and-mortar retailer or your favorite cyber mall, you're probably going to owe sales tax. Sorry, too, many U.S. businesses that rely on online, catalog and phone sales. You're going to have to devise ways to collect and remit sales tax (or at least report) on your remote transactions. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled in South Dakota vs. Wayfair that the nexus standard established in 1992 by the High Court's Quill vs. North Dakota decision... Read more →


Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Luka Modrić go against each other in a Portugal vs. Croatia friendly match in June 2013. (Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikipedia) I'm not a soccer or World Cup fan, but many of my social media pals are. That's why my Twitter feed is full of updates on upsets and expected results from this year's tournament hosted by Russia. But those sports fans have overlooked one thing. Some of soccer's — football to the world beyond the United States — biggest global stars also have faced serious international tax battles. Portugal star fights... Read more →


Our home's celebration of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. It's champions day at our house! I spent the morning watching the Washington Capitals, the new National Hockey League champions, parade down Constitution Avenue showing the Stanley Cup to their long-suffering fans. Then I switched over to watch the Golden State Warriors, the National Basketball Association's back-to-back champs, celebrate with their fans along the downtown Oakland parade route. It's fitting that the latest major league champs on both U.S. coasts had their parades today. Their festivities come on the heels of expanded sports betting across the country. N.J. sports... Read more →


In preparation for the summer cookout season, the hubby and I have been sprucing up our patio. The biggest job, aside from cleaning the thick layer of pollen off the outdoor dining table (yes, the hubby is appalled I'm showing that in the above photo), is replacing our almost 20-year-old patio furniture cushions. We tried buying replacements at local outdoor stores. Then we went to a couple of big box chains. Finally, we found what we wanted at a reasonable price in one of the many gardening/outdoor living catalogs that fill up our snail mail box. So we ordered them... Read more →


Every bettor in the United States after today's Supreme Court ruling that opens up sports betting nationwide. (Source: Giphy.com) That whoop you heard this morning was celebrating sports fans all across American who like to drop a few (or more) bucks on their favorites sports match-ups. The possibility that they can do so closer to home now an option thanks to today's (May 14, 2018) Supreme Court decision. Place your bets: The nation's highest court ruled 7-2 that a federal law that has effectively limited sports betting to Nevada for more than a quarter century is unconstitutional. The case, brought... Read more →


Shock jock Howard Stern's candid conversations with guests are one of his show's more popular features. Folks who talk to Stern, including the current Oval Office resident, willingly reveal TMI. One on-air exchange, however, resulted in inadvertent revelation of some of a Massachusetts woman's personal tax information and a subsequent lawsuit against Stern and Uncle Sam. As I noted back in May 2015, she was discussing her overdue tax bill with an Internal Revenue Service agent who had, on another line, called into Stern's satellite radio show. When Stern went live with the tax collector's on-hold call, the IRS agent's... Read more →


Internet shopping is now the preferred purchasing method for millions. Just ask Toys R Us, which has blamed its decision to shutter its operations largely on losses to remote sellers. But the taxation of products bought online is still a mish-mash of state laws. That could change in a few months depending on what the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decides in a high-profile remote sales tax case. The oral arguments in the case, South Dakota vs. Wayfair, are set for April 17, which just happens to be this year's federal tax return filing deadline. SCOTUS' decision is... Read more →