Tax fraud Feed

One of my favorite Lyle Lovett songs is "What Do You Do/The Glory of Love," where the Houston singer-songwriter shares the vocal spotlight with the incomparable Francine Reed. The lyric that initially caught my ear and makes me chuckle every time I hear it goes, "If you make all that money man, make damn sure it shows." That's a great exchange in a duet, but such showiness raised suspicions about a Dallas-area accountant accused of defrauding the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP fraud guilty plea: Steven Jalloul was indicted in September 2020 on charges he orchestrated a fraudulent scheme... Read more →


This has been a wonderful weather week here in the Austin area. Nights have been cool. Days have topped out in the seasonal upper 70s. But today is a tad warmer, a trend expected to continue through October. So it's goodbye to our brief autumn in Central Texas, and back to closing windows and cranking up the air conditioner. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Although it was hot this summer, it wasn't the hottest since we moved here 16 years ago. And after February's devastating ice storm, I'm never complaining about warm or warmer than normal or hot... 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 →


A record number of unemployment claims were filed due to COVID-19 layoffs. But billions of dollars of those benefits went to crooks who falsely filed for them. The weekly jobless reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are always watched closely. They're seen as a sign of how well (or not) the economy is doing. The reports of how many people are (or aren't) looking for work have taken on added significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest count was good news. BLS' Sept. 2 report showed that the United States saw the least number of new unemployment... Read more →


FTC Chair Lina Khan was one of the officials appearing at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in June on the agency's plan to modernize consumer protection. (Screen shot from the committee's hearing video) Most Americans don't pay too much attention to who's in charge of the various federal agencies. But a few now are learning about Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan since her agency has renewed its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. And others know the Biden Administration appointee because they are getting phishing emails using Khan's name in a COVID-19 payment scam. The email, purportedly from... Read more →


You'd think after almost 18 months of dealing with COVID-19, we'd all be wise to related scams. Apparently, we aren't. The coronavirus pandemic has been Christmas for con artists looking to cash in on all-too-common tales of woe and hardship, writes Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus. He leads off his article with the tale of a crook impersonating the neighbor of a California couple. In an email that looked to be from the neighbor's real online address, the crook invoked an extended family COVID tragedy. But while carefully crafted, the con wasn't quite slick enough to fool these... Read more →


If you don't follow international taxes, you probably missed the CumEx story. The team of investigative reporters who uncovered the alleged tax fraud schemes back in 2017 characterized it as "the largest tax robbery in the history of Europe." Thirty-eight reporters from 19 newsrooms in 12 countries collaborated across borders to dig through 180,000 pages of documents related to the allected tax fraud. Just what did the alleged tax schemers do? The short version is, allegedly, that banks, stock traders, and lawyers obtained billions from European treasuries through suspected fraud and speculation involving investment dividend taxes. According to the journalists,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has wrapped up its 2021 version of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. In announcing the cons by category, the agency was able to elaborate more on each trick on the list. In case you missed the posts earlier this week, here are the ol' blog's posts on each of them: Pandemic related scams, aka Part 1, which focuses on attempts steal COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and other tax-related coronavirus relief distributed by the IRS, from Monday, June 28; Personal information cons, or Part 2, with a look at phishing, its cousin voice phishing or vishing,... Read more →


We regular folks tend to have a complicated relationship with the wealthy. And by complicated, I mean one-sided, unrealistic, and too often reverential. Being aspirational, we love to gawk at what they can get away with because of their money, and dream of one day being in their Manolos and mansions. That's fueled way too many not-really reality shows. Such hopes also are a big reason scammers can convince wealthy wannabes to fall for schemes that peddle false hopes of large tax deductions. In real-life tax reality, these dodges simply are a way to push hopeful taxpayers further away from... Read more →


What's the result when the worst things happen? Too often, it's terrible people taking advantage of good people. This occurs with alarming regularity in the tax world following tragedies and disasters. Con artists use horrible events to convince compassionate individuals to donate to groups that will help out the victims. What really happens all too often is the caring donors become victims, too. Fake charities are just one type of scam in today's third installment of the IRS' Dirty Dozen for 2021. This category of tax ruses in which dishonest people trick others into doing something illegal often includes fraudulent... Read more →


The COVID-19 pandemic presented new opportunities for crooks, as noted in yesterday's post on the first group of 2021's Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Today, however, we're back with the golden oldies, as in trying to steal your gold. And your identity. These Personal Information Cons use a variety of techniques that have been around for years. There's phishing, its cousin voice phishing or vishing, Internal Revenue Service impersonators, social media trolling and tricks, and ransomware. Regardless of which illegal method is used, the goal is the same. Criminals try to get as much of your personal information as possible, including... Read more →


It's Dirty Dozen Week at the Internal Revenue Service. That's right, a week of examining the 12 most common and/or worst tax scams that have cropped up over the last year. I've been blogging about the annual IRS scam list for as long as Don't Mess With Taxes has been around. Sadly, some of the scams that I noted in my first list post back in the spring of 2006 — phishing for taxpayer identity details, fake charities, unscrupulous tax preparers — tend to show up year after year. You can see the repeat offenders in the 2019 and 2020... Read more →


Ah, college days. Studying, working between and after classes and now trying to avoid becoming a tax scam victim. (Photo by Tim Gouw via Unsplash) Many college students shoehorn jobs into their study schedules to help pay for their continuing educations. In addition to pocketing that cash throughout the year, many of these young workers also look forward at filing time to tax refunds from their jobs. So do crooks. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of an ongoing phishing scam in which the perpetrators are targeting education institutions, including students and staff with email addresses ending in the .edu... Read more →


Today's unemployment numbers offered a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The news, however, is not so good for many who in 2020 got these out-of-work benefits. Many recipients of the emergency financial assistance are surprised to learn that unemployment benefits are taxable. Others are even more surprised at the amounts on their Form 1099-G. This is the document sent to taxpayers and copied to the Internal Revenue Service. While social media messages and comments on the ol' blog are purely anecdotal, it seems that quite a few folks think their 2020 unemployment benefits have... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the federal government's largest refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers. In 2020, more than 25 million taxpayers received over $62 billion in EITC. The average EITC amount received last year was $2,461 per return. The EITC also is regularly overlooked. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that one of five eligible taxpayers do not claim the credit. That oversight could change this filing season. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of American workers into lower income brackets last year as their work was reduced. That could make them eligible for this... Read more →


If you want more security for your tax return, the Internal Revenue Service has a deal for you. Every taxpayer now can apply for an Identity Protection Personal Identity Number, or IP PIN. An IP PIN lets the IRS verify that it is indeed you who has filed your tax return. Once you have the six-digit code, the agency won't accept an electronically filed return in your name without it. If a paper return shows up without the IP PIN, it will get added IRS scrutiny. "This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP... Read more →


Image via GIPHY If you were part of the millions of taxpayers who didn't get their refunds — and I am seeing on social media that even into 2021, some people are still waiting … — the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) feels your pain. NTA Erin M. Collins included that complaint in her list of the 10 most serious problems facing taxpayers. The list is part of the Internal Revenue Service watchdog office's Annual Report to Congress, which was released on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Tax fraud fighting delays: There's a common thread among the 1040s where refunds are delayed. These... Read more →


There's some bad and not-so-bad news when it comes to the recently discovered hacking of the Treasury Department. Since we're still in god-awful 2020, let's start with the bad news. The hackers, believed by most security experts and many government officials to be Russian, were able to burrow deeply into the U.S. Treasury's computer operations, breaking into systems that are used by the department's highest-ranking officials. The better news is that the Internal Revenue Service, the largest division within Treasury, appears to be unaffected by the cyber attack. That's a relief to those of us who upon hearing that Treasury... Read more →


Among the many things COVID-19 has changed, possibly forever, is how and where we do our jobs. The work from home trend also has provided cyber criminals new ways to steal our identities and money — corporate cash, too — using telework security lapses and system flaws. TGIF! Yeah, workers still say this. However, there's a little less exultation in the announcement nowadays, what with many of us still working from home due to continuing coronavirus pandemic precautions. Plus, COVID-19 means our prior welcome weekend happy hours now are via Zoom. The work from home (WFH) shift also has created... Read more →


Most of us agree that technology has enhanced our lives. It's simplified myriad daily tasks with just a voice command, touch of a device screen or stroke of a keyboard. It's also made things easier for crooks. Identity theft is a snap when criminals can electronically snag your personal and financial data. High tech's illicit aspects quickly spread to the tax world. When the Internal Revenue Service shifted to electronic transactions, tax identity thieves slipped through that digital door, stealing taxpayer identities and filing fake returns to collect fraudulent refunds. Now, though, the IRS is adding an extra electronic lock... Read more →