Tax crimes Feed

Yelena Blinovskaya and Alexei Blinovsky in happier times shared on her Instagram account. I'm confident that the hubby loves me. But does he love me enough to head off to war? I don't ever want to find out that answer for many reasons, including the "what the what?" follow-up questions it would raise. But that startling scenario just played out in Russia. And yes, it involves taxes. Influencer tax evasion charges: Yelena Blinovskaya, a self-help coach and Instagram influencer, was arrested at the Russian-Belarus border in April 2023 for allegedly trying to flee her native country to avoid paying a... 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 →


Today's post on the second half of the 2024 Internal Revenue Service's Dirty Dozen tax scams looks at a wide range of schemes and potential victims. Tax pros are targets, as are high income earners in schemes 7 through 12. Together with the Dirty Dozen's first six scams posted last week, there's a scam for almost all of us taxpayers. Take notice and don't become a Dirty Dozen victim. Last Friday, I shared the first six of the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list. As promised, this post wraps up schemes, cons, and scams 7 through 12. This compilation... Read more →


Perennial tax schemes, some tweaked ones, and a few new scams, make the 2024 version of the IRS Dirty Dozen. And these featured today are just the first six of the 12 cons the IRS calls out in 2024. The final 7 through 12 on the annual infamy list will be posted next week. This week, as it does every week, the Department of Justice's Tax Division announced civil and criminal actions against several businesses and individuals accused of betraying taxpayer trust and cheating the Treasury Department out of tax dollars. Some of those who were part of the tax... 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 →


Herbal supplements might make you feel better, but such products typically don't qualify as medical treatments that are eligible for tax-favored treatment. (Photo by Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash) Health savings accounts, or HSAs, can offer some taxpayers triple tax savings. Holders of HSAs also have a longer window to contribute to these tax-advantaged plans. As noted in my March tax moves post, you can contribute to your HSA by Tax Day (that's April 15 this year), and have it count as money put into the account for the prior tax year. In addition to being a... Read more →


That's not going to stop the latest IRS effort to get wealthy individuals to file tax returns. (Image: Giphy) The Internal Revenue Service crackdown on wealthy taxpayers who are skirting tax laws continues. Last month, Uncle Sam's tax agency announced plans to audit business aircraft that were used, most often by well-paid corporate execs, for personal travel. Now it's cutting right to the chase, going after wealthy taxpayers who haven't filed federal tax returns for years. This week, the IRS issued compliance letters on more than 125,000 cases where tax returns haven't been filed since 2017. The mailings include more... Read more →


Photo by M.O. Stevens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this afternoon announced it has filed an administrative complaint against H&R Block for wiping out customers' entered data as a way to pressure them to pay for higher-priced tax preparation software options. The data erasure, according to the FTC charge, was when the taxpayers tried to downgrade to more affordable H&R Block software products. In addition, the FTC alleges that the company deceptively marketed their products as free when many consumers actually had to pay for them. "H&R Block designed its online products to present... Read more →


Crooks know you're anxiously awaiting your tax refund. That's why this filing season they're again impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents. The latest refund scam is an email or text about your tax refund or tax refund e-statement. In both cases, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the messages are efforts to steal your identity and money. As in previous incarnations, these latest fake IRS messages encourage recipients to click a link, supposedly to "check on your tax refund e-statement," or "fill out a form to get your refund." The FTC provided the image below of one of these fake IRS... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Planet Volumes In July 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had charged 22 individuals in connection with an allegedly fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan scheme that sought to defraud the federal government of $11.1 million. On Thursday, Feb. 15, two Georgians who were charged three years ago were convicted for their roles in the scheme. A 42-year-old Decatur man was convicted by a federal jury of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, making false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with 14... 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 →


Hiring a tax professional is not a task to take lightly. Filing false tax returns gets tax preparer 2+ year prison term, order to repay $4.7 million to Treasury You need to find tax help that fits your specific financial and tax needs. You then must make sure that the tax pro is just that. Professional. And reputable. Unfortunately, there are too many purported tax pros who turn out to be crooks. One of them, however, was caught and now will spend more than two years in federal prison. After he gets out of jail, he will face a year... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich A new tax season also brings the resurgences of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners earlier this month alerted tax professionals to watch out for a new round of filing season-related email schemes where cybercriminals pose as potential clients. Now FinCEN, the Treasury Department bureau that focuses on financial crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism, reports that there have been fraudulent attempts to obtain information from individuals and entities who may have to comply with new Corporate Transparency Act reporting requirements. Here's a look at these two schemes popping up as... Read more →


Only 80% of wrongly-claimed Employee Retention Credit amounts must be repaid. Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash We're all aware of the continuing medical issues from long COVID. The coronavirus' tax effects appear to be just as persistent. The Internal Revenue Service is still dealing with law changes enacted to provide pandemic relief. The Employee Retention Credit, or ERC, is one of them. This refundable business tax credit was designed for companies that continued paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic despite financial hardship. To qualify, the businesses were either fully or partially suspended due to a government order, or had... 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 →


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 →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today wrapped up the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning for everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros, to stay alert to emerging tax scams. It's a message the group issues regularly throughout the year because con artists work year-round to steal our money and, in many cases, our identities. Once they get that personal data, they can file fake tax returns to try to collect fraudulent refunds. By now, most of us are well aware of the warning signs of scams... Read more →


Tax mistakes, unintentional or otherwise, mean penalties when discovered by the IRS. And the amounts could add up. (Photo by Polina Tankilevitch) The United States' tax system depends on voluntary compliance by taxpayers. But Uncle Sam is no fool. He and his tax collectors are believers of the adage "trust, but verify." The Internal Revenue Service also follows up on that verification with penalties when it finds taxpayers — and the professionals we pay to take care of our taxes — aren't fulfilling our tax responsibilities on our own. The most severe punishments come via criminal tax prosecutions. The IRS... Read more →