Tax crimes Feed

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit is my favorite section of the tax agency. Part of it is because I've always been fascinated by law enforcement. Add tax geek to the mix, and it's a natural fit. My investigative bent was bolstered when my first full-time job as a young newspaper reporter on the cop beat. Those West Texas police officers tried their best to intimidate and gross out this young woman. They failed. Many times, solving a crime also is like unravelling a mystery, especially when the crooks are inventive. As a life-long mystery fan, that component... Read more →


Cryptocurrency continues to make inroads into our daily lives, including our taxes. On Sept. 1, Colorado officially became the first U.S. state to allow its residents to pay their state taxes in bitcoin. It's a pretty safe assumption that those Centennial State residents who pay state taxes with bitcoin also will be forthcoming at the federal level when it comes to their digital assets. But for those who are less transparent, the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up its efforts to know about and collect on crypto transactions. Legal action against hidden crypto: Last week, the IRS obtained a so-called... Read more →


Just more than a year ago, a Parkville, Missouri, man pleaded guilty to charges filed in two separate federal investigations. One was a case involving conspiracy to commit wire and major program fraud. The defendant admitted to his role in a $335 million scheme to defraud federal programs that award contracts to firms owned by minorities, veterans, and service-disabled veterans. The second charge was one of tax evasion to the tune of $615,847. The Missouri man confessed to claiming fraudulent business expenses on his 2016 tax year return and filing false returns from 2013 to 2016. Last Thursday, Sept. 22,... Read more →


Some come to the Cayman Islands for the beauty of Seven Mile Beach and other natural recreational areas. Others enjoy the Caribbean locale for financial and tax reasons. For more than a decade, wealthy U.S. tax evaders have taken advantage of a gaping tax law loophole that allows them to stash billions in foreign bank accounts, according to a recently released congressional report. Even though the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires them to report any non-U.S. accounts and pay taxes on all income earned, too many non-taxpayers are using what the Senate Finance Committee report describes as... Read more →


I suspect everyone involved in this ceremonial big check delivery is much happier than they appear in this Secret Service photo. COVID-19 federal financial assistance was a boon to many businesses that struggled during the pandemic's height. Now it's Uncle Sam who's getting relief. The U.S. Secret Service today announced the return of around $286 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The loans were granted based on fraudulently submitted applications that contained fabricated or stolen employment and personal information. Debit cards to hide, move funds: The investigation was initiated by the Secret Service's... Read more →


Barclays Bank building in Madrid (Photo by M.Peinado from Alcalá de Henares, España - 001782 - Madrid, CC BY 2.0) It's not a crime to put your money into legitimate foreign financial institutions. However, if the amount meets a certain threshold, you are required to report that money to the U.S. government. When U.S. taxpayers ignore this process, officially known as filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR, they can face costly consequences. That's the case in the FBAR collection complaint filed Aug. 15 by federal officials seeking judgment against the defendant who, per the... Read more →


Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman (right), explaining legal representation needs to soon-to-be meth king Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, in a scene from AMC's "Breaking Bad." As much as I loved that show and its "Better Call Saul" sequel, don't take Jesse's legal advice when it comes to tax troubles. Get honest and experienced professional help for any potentially criminal tax charges, like the ones noted below. Maybe it's because I'm still processing the end "Better Call Saul," the wonderful six-season exploration of television's best show about the evolution of, echoing the emphasis of Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman, a... Read more →


Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash Are you freaking out about the possibility that one of the new Internal Revenue Service enforcement agents will be coming for you? Most of us don't have to worry. The prime targets are the very wealthy. Why has the IRS been instructed to go after this filing demographic? One reason is because the richest taxpayers who try to hide taxable assets offer the biggest return when they are caught. Another reason is that they've been flying under the IRS audit radar for way too long. Dramatic drop in high wealth audits: A Government Accountability Office... Read more →


Tax legislation is much more than just changes to the Internal Revenue Code. It's also a political statement. In an election year, which is essentially every year nowadays, it's also a political weapon. Republicans, who currently are slightly outnumbered on Capitol Hill by Democrats, didn't waste any time latching on to the Senate's passage on Aug. 7 of the Inflation Reduction Act. Notably, they cited potential added Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of taxpayers, thanks to part of the bill. Well aware that every federal return filer, even the most honest among us, worries about the IRS taking a closer look... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service relies on taxpayers and tax professionals to help ensure that our national tax system is secure. These efforts are particularly critical as the federal tax agency goes more electronic. It's also a legal requirement for tax professionals. The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act after the names of its primary Congressional sponsors, mandates that financial institution companies ensure the security and confidentiality of any and all consumer information they collect. The Federal Trade Commission administers the law. Tax professional tax preparers are included in the law's definition of financial institutions.... Read more →


Robert J. Brockman speaking at the dedication of Centre College's Young Hall on in October 2011. (YouTube screenshot) The Texas billionaire charged in what Internal Revenue Service investigators called the largest U.S. tax fraud case ever died late Aug. 5 at his Houston home. The 81-year-old Robert J. Brockman suffered from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. In May, a federal judge deemed the former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds, a software company for auto dealerships, was competent to face charges that he evaded taxes on $2 billion of income. A February 2023 trial date was set. So what happens now to... Read more →


UPDATE, Sept. 27, 2022: A Spanish judge on today approved a trial for Colombian pop singer Shakira on charges of tax fraud. The date for the trial has yet to be set. Shakira and Spanish singing star Alejandro Sanz in 2008 met Spain's then-king Juan Carlos I. Today, Shakira's interactions with Spanish tax officials are not so friendly. (Photo by Movimiento ALAS - Flickr: ALAS_CUMBRE_64, CC BY 2.0) The rich and famous are different from you and me. But when it comes to taxes, sometimes they're the same. That's the case where they face the legal ramifications of some questionable... Read more →


HMRC warns United Kingdom citizens that tax avoidance is when people bend the rules of the tax system to try to pay less than they owe. The tax agency has created a guide to help spot tax avoidance schemes. Regardless of where we live, people essentially are the same, especially when it comes to taxes. Some of us tend to push the tax envelope, perhaps too much. That's what United Kingdom tax officials think. And they've had enough, especially in these difficult times. Tracking down tax cheats: Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the UK's version of our Internal Revenue... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →


One of these things is different from the rest: IRS Warns Donors about Charity Scams Following Recent Tragedies in Boston and Texas (2013) Fake charities make 2018 'Dirty Dozen list (2018) IRS cautions taxpayers about fake charities and scammers targeting immigrants (2021) IRS "Dirty Dozen" list warns people to watch out for tax-related scams involving fake charities, ghost preparers and other schemes (2021) Be aware of scammers who use fake charities to get sensitive information (2021) Bogus charities are always a problem. (2022) 76 Fake Charities Shared a Mailbox. The I.R.S. Approved Them All. (2022) The first six items above... Read more →


Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA Dealing with the normal ups and, too frequently of late, downs of the stock market is enough of a worry. But things can quickly go even further downhill when crooks use fake investments to defraud victims. Not surprisingly, those criminals often get greedier and try to cheat Uncle Sam, too. Such overreach, however, didn't work out well for one California man. Robert Louis Cirillo of Chino Hills pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday, June 28, to charges of defrauding investors of $3.2 million, as well as scamming an elderly man of hundreds of thousands of... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Whistleblower Office marked its 15th anniversary in fiscal year 2021 by making 179 awards to whistleblowers totaling more than $36 million. "Whistleblower claim numbers assigned in FY 2021 grew by 55% year over year, the second highest level of new claim numbers in the history of the program and claim closures also increased by 13%," wrote John Hinman, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, in the introduction to the office's 2021 Annual Report to Congress, released on June 10. Those tips led to the IRS collecting in fiscal 2021 more than $245 million, which includes almost... Read more →


All graphics courtesy IRS Tax Pros Twitter account Benjamin Franklin wasn't quite correct. There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and tax scams. For more than two decades, the Internal Revenue Service has annually highlighted the 12 worst recent scams. This year's Dirty Dozen includes questionable tax arrangement touted by con artists, pandemic-related schemes to steal people's identities and refund money, dubious tax payment options, and unscrupulous tax preparers. For the last few years, the IRS has shifted from a single list of a dozen tax scams to multiple alerts with more details on the various scams. Those new... Read more →


U.S. Continental Navy ship Alfred at its commissioning at Philadelphia on Dec. 3, 1775, captured in this oil painting by W. Nowland Van Powell. America's earliest sailors also were the new nation's first whistleblowers. (Image courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command) Memorial Day and its surrounding weekend days are to honor those in the armed forces who gave their all to protect us and our country. But, thank goodness, the ultimate sacrifice isn't required in all cases. Sometimes other forms of protection are just as necessary to protect us and society at large against fraud, waste, and abuse of power.... Read more →


Update, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022: Robert J. Brockman died at his Houston, Texas, home on Aug. 5, 2022. That effectively ends federal prosecutors' criminal tax evasion case against Brockman. Civil tax litigation, however, will continue against his estate. Shutterstock The billionaire charged in the largest U.S. tax fraud case ever is one step closer to facing trial. Robert J. Brockman, the former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds, a software company for auto dealerships, was indicted on Oct. 1, 2020, on 39 counts of evading taxes on $2 billion of income. The 20-year scheme, according to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal... Read more →


Crypto currency aficionados thought the worse thing happening to their holdings lately was the crashing market prices. Sorry. There's more. Tax investigators say they've discovered a possible $1 billion Ponzi scheme focusing on the crypto market. More than 50 potential crypto tax offences have been uncovered by international tax inspectors, according to reports out of a recent London conference of leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) countries. The J5 was created to fight transnational tax crime through increased enforcement collaboration. The participating tax agencies — the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), France's... Read more →