Law Feed

Alcatraz Island's federal penitentiary once housed the most infamous tax evader, Al Capone. This particular Big House is no longer used to house felons, but the U.S. legal system has plenty more facilities where it can send those convicted of tax crimes. (Photo by Chris6d - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0) Being a Big Law attorney has its benefits. Working for one of the most prestigious law firms in the United States, usually in one of the country’s major metropolises, means prestige and money. But one such attorney apparently didn’t properly report his income to the Internal Revenue Service. And... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with George Dagerotip President Joe Biden last week endorsed the Department of Justice's (DoJ) move to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug. Biden said in social media posts — X (aka Twitter) and YouTube — that the move would reverse “long-standing inequities” under the current criminalization of cannabis. "Look folks, no one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana," the president said in his video statement. Not legalization, but lowering federal interest: The Justice Department move would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use, which currently is the... Read more →


Those who enter the New York Criminal Courts building are greeted by Thomas Jefferson's words engraved on the façade. The third U.S. president cited "equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion" as one of the essential principles of American democracy. (Photo by Carl Mikoy, Flickr Creative Commons) In September 2019, Donald J. Trump changed his official residence from New York to Florida. The then-president gave no official reason for the paperwork move. However, one reason likely was the Sunshine State’s lack of a personal income tax. Though Trump refused to release his federal or state... Read more →


You don’t like the taxes being withheld from your paychecks, but at least you know your tax money is going to fund government services. Most of the time. In some cases, those responsible for getting income and other payroll taxes to Uncle Sam don’t comply with their legal responsibility to collect and deliver the funds to the Internal Revenue Service. Nearly $2.7M unremitted tax: It’s that delivery portion that’s usually the bigger issue. And that’s what a Maryland woman pleaded guilty to today. The woman, whose name is in the official Department of Justice complaint filed back in January, but... Read more →


With the expansion of the white-collar crime of money laundering into financial adviser sectors, federal officials are looking to extend regulations to those areas. (Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, typically referred to as FinCEN, has in recent months amped up efforts to stop money laundering. FinCEN's latest proposals are designed to close loopholes that officials say foreign and domestic criminals use to launder money through U.S. financial sectors. This week, the changes got support from Capitol Hill and beyond. Seven U.S. Senators sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The smartest tax move often if hiring a good tax professional. Unfortunately, the tax community is not immune to bad actors. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service warns taxpayers to thoroughly vet the person they want to hire to handle their taxes. Every year, the IRS also issues warning about unscrupulous tax preparers who take advantage of trusting taxpayers and take their money. These alerts also are routinely part of the IRS annual Dirty Dozen scam list; dishonest tax pros is #6 on the 2023 list. (Preview: the 2024 list is on its way... Read more →


Ill-gotten gains used to fund a lavish lifestyle. For 10 years, a Rhode Island man ran a Ponzi scheme that ultimately left conned investors empty handed, while he used the funds to pay for his own lavish lifestyle. At the same time, Thomas Huling, 58, of West Warwick, also was ripping off the U.S. Treasury. On March 19, Huling was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for those crimes. The jail term comes 18 months after he pleaded guilty, back in September 2022, to wire fraud and tax evasion. Under the plea deal, the government agreed to the dismissal... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's law enforcement arm is getting a new chief next month. Guy Ficco, current Deputy Chief of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), will take the reins from current IRS CI Chief James Lee on April 1. Lee, who took over as the tax agency's top law enforcement officer in October 2020, is retiring. As head of IRS CI, Ficco will oversee a worldwide staff of more than 3,200 employees, including 2,200 special agents who investigate crimes involving tax, money laundering, public corruption, human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime, and terrorism-financing. Long-time IRS member: Ficco, pictured at left,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has made it clear for years. It wants to know about your digital assets. Ignore the crypto question, now at the top of more tax forms, at your own tax peril. And if you go further and don't report taxable digital transactions, the Department of Justice (DoJ) will get involved. That's the case for a Texas man, who this week was indicted on charges of filing false tax returns and structuring cash deposits to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements. Bitcoin was a component in both charges. Notably, the federal prosecution involving digital transactions is historic, at... Read more →


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. (Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash) With much of the United States in the grips of severe winter weather, many of today's celebrations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and legacy have been postponed. If that's the case where you live, you can spend your extra time on this legal holiday reconnecting with King's works. A good starting place is Britannia's timeline of King's life, travails, and accomplishments. You'll also want to read some of his works. There is, of... Read more →


Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash 🌟 Billions of dollars in fraud. 🌟 Victims across the globe. 🌟 🌟 Criminals who are all about personal gain. 🌟 No, that's not the opening voiceover in a trailer for a new Netflix true crime series, although I'd watch it if it were. It's from IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee's comments on his unit's top 10 cases of 2023. Those three opening elements, said Lee, are the crux of CI's biggest busts last year. "When I say our team at CI is the best at following the money trail, I mean it,"... Read more →


On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in the tax case Moore v. United States. Charles and Kathleen Moore filed the lawsuit challenging the Mandatory Repatriation Tax provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. That section of the tax reform law was designed to discourage U.S. corporations from keeping funds overseas by reducing certain taxes on foreign earnings. But in exchange In exchange for those tax cuts, investors and corporations had to pay a one-time, retroactive tax on all foreign income dating back to 1986. The repatriation provision,... Read more →


Special agents with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation have an impressive conviction rate on their case. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) Fiscal 2023 was a good year for the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division. The law enforcement unit initiated more than 2,676 criminal investigations, identified $37.1 billion from tax and financial crimes, and obtained an 88.4 percent conviction rate on prosecuted cases. Those figures were part of IRS CI's Fiscal Year 23 Annual Report released this week. They were attained by following the money, which is a key technique of the only federal law enforcement... Read more →


Piles of illicit cash were a plot feature in the AMC show "Breaking Bad." Since meth-making kingpin Walter White couldn't bank it without raising suspicions, he kept his drug money under his floorboards and, finally, in a storage unit, where two underlings once used it to nap sans mattress. Anyone who watches crime programs (guilty!) knows one piece of tax law. Television, streaming, and movie crooks are always careful to avoid five-figure financial transactions. When these on-screen crooks deposit or withdraw more than $10,000 of their ill-gotten funds, the bank must report the large amounts to the Internal Revenue Service.... Read more →


Actor Bob Odenkirk in the season 4 finale of "Better Call Saul," where his titular character, after getting his law license reinstated, legally becomes Saul Goodman. (Screen shot from that episode's final scene) It's all good, man, for AMC Networks and Sony Pictures in their legal fight with Liberty Tax In August 2022, Liberty Tax Service sued Sony Pictures, the producer of "Better Call Saul," and AMC Networks, which broadcast the "Breaking Bad" prequel, for trade dress and trademark infringement. But apparently, attorneys for Sony and AMC were up to (OK, probably better than) Saul Goodman standards. They persuaded the... Read more →


The sentencing of the two Fort Myers businessmen this week comes as the Internal Revenue Service ramps up its compliance efforts on flow-through entities. Photo by Raze Solar on Unsplash Reliable contractors are worth a fortune in Florida. The Sunshine State has its share of overcast and worse days, as made disastrously clear by major Hurricanes Ian in 2022 and Idalia this fall. That's why it's so discouraging when home repair experts break bad. Like a pair of roofing contractors who cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of more than $1 million. And more companies like theirs, a pass-through entity,... Read more →


Hunter Biden hugging his father Joe and stepmother Jill after the elder Biden was sworn in as President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via Wikimedia Commons) One of the 10 guarantees in the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the right to privacy. Hunter Biden says the tax agency failed to follow its rule, and has filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS alleging that it illegally disclosed information about his taxes. The core of Biden's legal action is the public testimony of two IRS agents.... Read more →


The scheme involved false W-9 information, which meant the payor wasn't able to provide the owner of the artificial turf company, or the Internal Revenue Service, with the proper third-party report, allowing the man to evade nearly a million in federal tax. Until tax investigators caught up to him. Artificial grass has been dividing sports fans and players since its installation in Houston's iconic Astrodome in 1966. But fake grass is gaining ground among residential and smaller commercial customers. The market is forecast to reach $7 billion by 2025, as we deal with hotter temperatures, drought, and water sources literally... Read more →


A photo of Chocolate Lab's chocolate lasagna, posted on Yelp in March by a diner. The Denver, Colorado, eatery now is closed, apparently due to delinquent taxes. Even before The Bear started streaming, it was no secret that running a restaurant is difficult. In addition to culinary responsibilities, restauranteurs must tend to zoning issues, health department inspections, and labor concerns. And, of course, there are tax matters. It's that last one that apparently has led to the closure of Denver's only chocolate-centric restaurant. I know, you wish you had made it to the Mile High City to try out Chocolate... Read more →


With summer here, most of us are taking advantage of this traditional season of breaks to, well, take breaks from work. I am among them. To make the end of work weeks during the summer a little easier, I'm resuming an older ol' blog feature, Tax Felon Friday. Tax offenses generally aren't as lurid as those in, for example, true crime podcasts. (Yes, I am a big fan of them.) But this first of the revived Tax Felon Friday series does have a connection to a prior prurient federal case. In the summer of 2017, Frank Parlato, Jr. helped expose... Read more →