Law Feed

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 →


Most of us would love to win the lottery. And most of us know that hitting a jackpot means the U.S. Treasury is a winner, too. Taxes due on gambling winnings are just part of the price of such payoffs. But an Ohio man pushed his luck a bit too far. He's now awaiting sentencing on his attempt to evade taxes on a lottery jackpot. The Hillard, Ohio, man pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court to one count of filing a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service in connection with his $1 million lottery win 2015.... Read more →


The tax voyeur in all of us enjoyed the latest unsurprising revelations of how rich people hide money around the world, including a dozen U.S. states and D.C., to avoid paying taxes. The attention to this not really news item also is a good time to note the difference between illegal tax evasion and legal tax avoidance. The South Dakota capitol building is in the state's capital city of Pierre. The state itself is the U.S. capital as far as the most trusts identified in the Pandora Papers. (Photo by Jake DeGroot via Wikipedia) Last week we got news that... Read more →


The loss of tax revenue is substantial, since most states collect tax (or are supposed to) on all their meals, from eat-in to pick up to delivery. Tasty and taxable. (Photo by Adrienn via Pexels) Running a restaurant poses many challenges. Dealing with increased food costs. Hiring and training staff. Finding an accessible and affordable location. Complying with health and other regulatory rules. Paying taxes. The tax consideration is getting special attention in California, where an extended investigation reveals that around a fifth of the state's restaurants are using high-tech methods to skip out on taxes. "The California Department of... Read more →


Is the fifth time the charm? The owners of cannabis businesses legal in their states certainly hope that modified multiple maxim is true. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would allow cannabis businesses in the 36 states with retail dispensaries (that are taxed) to operate the same way their non-marijuana related colleagues do. They could pay their federal taxes with a check, secure loans to expand their operations, and accept bank debit card transactions by customers. Right now, that's all problematic at best. Businesses that sell marijuana are limited in their banking options since the plant still is... Read more →


I spend way too much time on social media, specifically Twitter. I like the quick hit, hyperbolic, melodramatic tone of many of the folks I follow. One Tweet in particular caught my eye last week with its dismissal of LuLaRoe clothing. Geraldine DeRuiter, who blogs at The Everywhereist, is not a fan. "LulaRoe clothing has spread like a spandex pox over my local thrift store. Shirts and skirts and dresses, all so bizarrely ugly, and not a good sort of ugly, but a strange, sad, I-think-maybe-humanity-should-go-extinct kind of ugly."https://t.co/voUOOQRRCf — Geraldine (@everywhereist) September 19, 2021 After I quit laughing, I... Read more →


Sports betting has expanded beyond casino sportsbooks like this one in Las Vegas. And this NFL season, the league has made deals with seven sports betting companies. (Photo by Kay Bell) The National Football League's 2021 season kicks off tonight with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Are you ready for some sports betting, this time OK'ed by the NFL? The NFL reached deals last month with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBET to be the league's Approved Sportsbook Operators. This means that, among other things, the four legal betting operations can purchase televised... Read more →


Tonight's Powerball drawing is $304 million*. If your numbers don't come up, or even if they do, you can check out Mega Millions' drawing on Friday, Aug. 27, for a jackpot that by then will be more than the current $288 million**. *UPDATE, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021: No big winner last night. That pushes the Powerball jackpot for Saturday's, Aug. 28, drawing to, right now, $322 million. **UPDATE, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021: Stop me if you're heard this, but no big Mega Millions winner on Aug. 27. That means the Tuesday, Aug. 31, jackpot will be at least $306 million.... Read more →


When is a tax whistleblower not a whistleblower, at least as far as getting rewarded for certain information? When the Internal Revenue Service determines that added taxes didn't directly come from the whistleblower's, well, whistle blowing. That's what recently happened to a man who altered the IRS to what he thought was unreported, and therefore untaxed, income. The IRS, acting on the tip, reviewed the reported individual's apparently questionable filing. However, the IRS found that the suspect funds were indeed non-taxable. But then the IRS took a longer look at the taxpayer's filing, and found what it determined were improper... Read more →


Tax reporting changes of virtual currency transactions remain a part of the infrastructure bill, now on the bumpy legislative road to passage in the U.S. Senate. But crypto already has been contributing to the U.S. Treasury, and I'm not talking about individual taxpayers' filings. So far this fiscal year, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division has seized $1.2 billion in crypto currencies. And there's still almost two months before fiscal 2021 ends on Sept. 30. That amount is a reflection of the tax agency's increased interest in digital currency. "In fiscal year 2019, we had about $700,000 worth of... Read more →