Tax crimes Feed

My mother is almost 85. She's no Betty White, but all things considered she doing darn well. Especially when it comes to cognition and attitude. She listens to an audio book a week, keeps up with the news and her favorite TV game show (Jeopardy) and doesn't take any guff from unsolicited callers trying to sell her stuff. Or worse. Unfortunately, that latter instance is not the case for many in my mom's demographic. A recent Marketplace series examined how the aging brain may become more susceptible to financial scams. Among the findings, data suggest that as we get older,... Read more →


Most of us don't cheat on our taxes. And by cheating, I mean intentionally enter false information on our returns. Sure, we don't like paying taxes, even after they're trimmed a bit via periodic federal tax law changes. Still, we suck it up every spring and do our tax duties. But most is not all. Some folks do fiddle with the figures they put on their 1040 forms. The Internal Revenue Service does what it can to stop and/or catch such evasive entries. Budget cuts and staff attrition, however, hamper such audit efforts. That's why the IRS takes all the... Read more →


Michael Cohen (left) and Tom Arnold run into each other in New York City in June 2018. (Photo via Tom Arnold on Twitter) Michael Cohen, Donald J. Trump's former attorney and previously self-described fixer, is heading to federal prison in a couple weeks. But in a recent conversation with actor Tom Arnold, Cohen said he didn't commit all of the crimes for which he will do time. Specifically, according to the story on the telephone discussion that the Wall Street Journal broke, Cohen says he's not guilty of tax evasion, one of the charges for which he's going to jail.... Read more →


Unfortunately for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service, there's nothing new under the sun when it comes to tax scams. Fortunately for taxpayers and the IRS, the tax agency and its Security Summit partners are still on top of the most common scams that continue to pop up in some form year-round. These 12 schemes, which have been dubbed the Dirty Dozen tax scams, get added attention, of course, during the main tax filing season. During these hectic days from Jan. 1 — yes, some folks are ready to file that soon — through April 15, millions of us are... Read more →


If a phone call from someone claiming to be with an official tax office doesn't sound quite right, it's because it's probably a scam call. (Photo by rocketace via Flickr) I'm not a paranoid person. And the only conspiracy theories I've ever paid attention to were the for-entertainment-purposes-only ones promoted on television's The X-Files. But I've got wonder if the tax crooks who are working nonstop to steal our identities and tax refunds also are colluding to troll the Internal Revenue Service. Case in point, the latest tax scam alert from the IRS. Today the tax agency issued a warning... Read more →


I attend fitness classes — OK, mostly yoga and I tend to head into Savasana a bit sooner than most of my fellow yogis — several times a week at my neighborhood club. Most of the members have been there for year and it's got a community feel. Still, I am always amazed at how much personal information folks share about themselves with people they really don't know very well. Many folks, in fact, share stuff albeit unintentionally with total strangers as a recent piece by Kate Klonick for the New York Times alarmingly illustrates. Klonick, who teaches information privacy... Read more →


The 2019 tax filing season appears, so far, to be thankfully free of tax scams. Maybe it's because things are going a bit more slowly, either due to the many tax law changes, the lengthy government shutdown that preceded it or a combination of both. I hate to be a buzzkill, but this early filing season respite is probably the best we can hope for. Tax realists know that crooks are still out there, planning and/or implanting their schemes to steal taxpayer identities and file fake returns to get fraudulent refunds. Scams increase as tax deadline nears: That concern is... Read more →


Dr. Seuss' The Grinch movie image courtesy Illumination Entertainment Grinches aren't always green. Sometimes we don't even know what they look like. That's the case when they set their sights on stealing not only Christmas, but your identity by sending fake emails. This holiday season, ID thieves have stepped up their phishing efforts. And some of those fake emails are going to tax professionals as part of payroll direct deposit and wire transfer scams. Tax pros targeted, too: Phishing scams tend to be small-d democratic. The business email compromise and/or spoofing tactics generally target all types of industry and employers.... Read more →


Welcome to a new week, another seven days for cyber criminals to try to steal your personal, financial and tax information. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax departments and the tax world's private sector spent five days alerting us to potential tax identity theft schemes and ways to ensure we don't fall victim. Unfortunately, we need to be aware of the dangers of online tax and financial crime every single day of the year, not just for one designated week. That's why today I'm recapping the National Tax Security Awareness Week warnings.... Read more →


Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr The billions of holiday shoppers who head for their electronic devices instead of malls are well aware of the precautions they need to take as they pick perfect gifts from websites. This year, everyone also needs to be on alert for tax crooks who've joined this annual online crime wave. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warn that they've recently seen a surge of fraudulent emails where the sender impersonates the IRS and uses tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's crime fighting division did a bang-up job last fiscal year, stopping almost $10 billion in tax fraud. That 2018 amount was four times more than the previous fiscal year, according to the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division’s annual report released today. CI, which marked its 100-year anniversary at the Oct. 1 start of the 2019 fiscal year, identified $9.7 billion in tax fraud during the last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018). That's up dramatically from the $2.5 billion CI found in fiscal 2017. Much crime, but tax fraud focus: General tax fraud... Read more →


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 →


Got enough money that you've diversified by investing in some international accounts? Good for you. If, however, those non-U.S. holdings are, shall we say, designed to be ultra-private, you might want to think about opening them up. Specifically, tell the Internal Revenue Service about that money you've been hiding from Uncle Sam or pay a big price when your tax haven money is discovered. One way to do that is by taking advantage of the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). That opportunity, however, is about to end. Closing OVDP: Back in March, the IRS announced that it was giving... Read more →


Is there anyone anywhere who hasn't been a potential identity theft victim? Probably not. Even if the crooks haven't stolen your identity — yet — there's still the possibility if some holder of any of your personal information has been hacked. And that happens every day. The biggies get the most attention, like last year when cyber criminals got hold of Equifax credit bureau data, putting almost 146 million identities at risk. And no one is safe. Just last week, the federal government again fell victim to hackers. The State Department, like the Office of Personnel Management and Internal Revenue... 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 →


Taxpayer security remains a major concern across the United States. The Internal Revenue Service continues to use carrots — such as sharing security tips from tax pros who've been victimized — and sticks — specific data retention rules that practitioners must follow — to help protect tax pros and their clients. But the IRS is not alone in taking steps to protect taxpayer data. All states now taxpayer security breach notifications laws. And Virginia recently expanded its requirements, now mandating that tax professionals report any taxpayer data breach within a “reasonable amount of time." Enhancement of existing law: This new... 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 →


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 →