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 →


Photo by RODNAE Productions Welcome to the continuation of the ol' blog's Tax Crime Weekend! Yesterday's post featured efforts to end abusive tax schemes and bring their promoters to justice. Today's post expands on the legal reckoning theme. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division, known as IRS-CI, recently revealed its top 10 cases of 2022. Wide variety of schemes, one outcome: The tax evasion attempts included Ponzi pyramid schemes, fake businesses, COVID-19 fraud, bogus tax credit, and even a reality TV couple. And more. Despite the diversity of their criminal tax acts, they shared one thing. They got caught.... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich One of the reasons to file early is to beat tax identity thieves to the punch. Even though the Internal Revenue Service has slowed such tax crimes a bit in recent years, they're still out there. In fact, I've been getting a lot of scam span in recent weeks, both texts and email, like the one below I got this morning. While this poorly faked attempt — a Gmail address for the U.S. Agency for International Development's grant office; really? — isn't a specific tax hack attempt, some of the information the crooks want from me... Read more →


Nothing ever disappears on the internet. Even, or especially, tax related posts. Take the bad legal take on taxes that tops this post. It was retweeted on Sunday (Dec. 11) by, you guessed it, Bad Legal Takes. But there's no indication of when Dave Champion originally blasted out his bad tax advice. It might have been before he was barred by a federal court in 2012 from promoting a tax fraud scheme. Or maybe he's back, since this Tweet apparently went up in October. His books also are still for sale online. Either way, that item this weekend spurred a... Read more →


Not all foreign tax havens are tropical islands, but the idyllic getaways do conjure images of tax crooks enjoying isolated beaches at Internal Revenue Service's expense. (Photo by Asad Photo Maldives) Correlation does not imply causation, but in a couple of high-profile offshore tax evasion cases, it's starting to look like trying to allegedly put one over on the U.S. tax collector is not a healthy move. For the second time in four months, a defendant in an offshore tax evasion case has died. Carlos Kepke, a Houston-based tax attorney who was indicted on charges that he helped hide $225... Read more →


Holiday season is here. So are the accompanying scams. True, con artists operate year-round. But they really ramp up their schemes during this time of giving. Some try to trick people who are stretched a bit too thin into thinking there's free money out there … as long as they supply some personal and financial information. Other scammers use the hook of holiday giving, especially for those who are less fortunate. Just send along your help to the fake emailer, they say, or even easier, just click on the link. 'Tis the phishing season: And some go for a combo... Read more →


Some of my grandmother's paintings, known as the main Vera Gallery in our house. (Photo by Kay Bell) The hubby and I are art fans, primarily of painted works. That's why almost all of our vacations include a visit to our destinations' museums. Our appreciation of a piece hanging on a wall is why most of our rooms are adorned by framed artworks. Most are signed limited edition print versions of our favorite painters' works. But we also have some originals of a few notable artists, as well as works that are more sentimental but just as lovely, like the... Read more →


Right now, a lot of folks are thinking they should have been like Larry. The Larry they wished they'd emulated is Larry David, known for his curmudgeonly television character. He tweaked that persona to become a naysayer on several inventions that, per the commercial's Super Bowl debut, changed the world. The television ad for FTX crypto exchange advised viewers, "Don't be like Larry" and instead invest in digital currency via the company. On Friday, Nov. 11, FTX filed for bankruptcy following reports that between $1 billion to $2 billion of FTX customer funds disappeared. Continuing crypto troubles: This is just... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) division is doing its part to close the Tax Gap, which now sits at $496 billion in uncollected tax. The IRS' law enforcement group's recently released annual report notes that its agents initiated more than 2,550 criminal investigations, identified more than $31 billion from tax and financial crimes, and obtained a 90.6 percent conviction rate on cases that were prosecuted. Much of IRS-CI's success during the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, was due to its increased cooperation and partnership with its global counterparts to combat tax and financial crimes worldwide.... Read more →


The October filing extension deadline, which falls on Oct. 17 this year since the 15th is Saturday, is less than a week away. The Internal Revenue Service is waiting on the uber procrastinators to get their filings in by next Monday. But the IRS isn't the only federal financial office awaiting postponed documents. FinCEN also demands extended FBAR filings be in by Oct. 17. Taxable money, but not an IRS issue: FBAR, or Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, is how FBAR information is the federal government's way of tracking foreign bank and financial accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service saw its largest tax fraud case ever end on Aug. 5 when Robert T. Brockman died. The 81-year-old billionaire had been charged with 39 criminal financial crimes, including tax evasion. Federal investigations alleged that Brockman was part of an elaborate offshore tax fraud scheme that cheated the U.S. Treasury out of more than $1.4 billion in taxes, penalties, and interest. While the criminal case is over, legal actions in civil and tax courtrooms to recoup the allegedly unpaid taxes (and add-on charges) continue. Special tax action to protect collection: As part of that process, the IRS... 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 →


UPDATE, Jan. 11, 2023: Computer incidents made today a bad day to fly in the United States and Canada, or try to send international mail in the United Kingdom. But those crashes make it a good day to double check your personal and business cyber security plans. The IRS has some tips and guidance for tax professionals' data reliability and protection. 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... 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 →