Tax crimes Feed

Ransomware has evolved over the last three decades from a targeted cyber attack distributed on literal floppy discs to a major electronic security crisis for individuals, companies and governments. This type of malware typically locks out computer users and locks down their systems until the cyber hijackers are paid to return access to the information. In 2017, WannaCry ransomware went global, infecting more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Most recently, almost two dozen Texas towns were victims of a coordinated attack. The Lone Star State electronic lockouts follow patterns set by ransomware demands in Florida, Maryland and New York.... Read more →


This February 2016 photo on Twitter of Donald J. Trump signing a tax return is one of the few, and unrevealing, looks we've gotten of his federal filings. The focus of Donald J. Trump and his White House change quickly. Issues that were boiling over just days ago quickly get pushed to a back burner by something else that's hotter. But some of those old topics are still simmering. And one of them, Trump's tax returns, saw the heat turned up a bit recently. It was, however, a former college student, not Trump, who was put on the hot spot.... Read more →


Bitcoin and other virtual currencies fascinate me, but that's as far as it goes. I don't own and have never had any interest in cryptocurrencies. I'm basically a say it with cash kind of gal. Part of my crypto trepidation is that I've yet to grasp how Bitcoin is mined, despite the hubby's patient, and repeated, explanations. And like many Senators during a recent hearing on Facebook's proposed Libra digital money, I'm skeptical of the concept (as well as suspicious of the online social media platform proposing it, but that's another blog post). My disavowal of cryptocurrency, however, has been... Read more →


//Kara's Party Ideas If you don't have to work on this post-July 4th Friday, then you're probably spending the day recovering from your patriotic and fireworks-laden celebrations. Some folks also are resting up from their birthday partying. Yep, I'm talking about those folks born on the Fourth of July. Famous 4th birthday celebrants: Several celebrities share this early July birth date. People magazine published a slide show and those from that presentation that caught my eye include: Eva Marie Saint, the Academy Award winning actress immortalized in On the Waterfront, which was directed by Elia Kazan and also showcased real-life... Read more →


If taxpayers agree with the National Taxpayer Advocate that getting tax help from the Internal Revenue Service is terrible, you might expect folks to transfer their frustration to their returns. Unable to get the answers to their tax questions, they could say, "To hell with it. I'm just putting whatever I want on my 1040." The latest IRS taxpayer attitude survey, however, says that in most cases that's not the reaction. A notable majority of taxpayers say cheating on taxes is wrong. Tax cheating is wrong: Every year, the IRS releases its Data Book, which contains information from the prior... Read more →


Sometimes justice does prevail. Last week it arrived along with a dose of schadenfreude from all us who've paid, albeit usually grudgingly, our taxes over the years. On Friday, June 21, Virginia tax attorney-turned-lobbyist James F. Miller pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false tax return. And Miller wasn't just any National Capital area tax attorney. He was former employee of the Department of Justice' Tax Division. Again, schadenfreude. Six-digit tax bill on under-reported millions: The amount of money involved in Miller's case also is impressive. Miller, 67, under reported his gross income on his 2010 through 2014 tax returns... Read more →


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 →