Tax crimes Feed

The Biden Administration's proposal to up the Internal Revenue Service budget so it could go after more rich tax cheats got a lot of attention. But the White House also wants to cut down on some audits. That, according to the president's American Families Plan, can be accomplished by giving the IRS more oversight of unregulated tax preparers. The audit/tax pro regulation connection is noted in a White House fact sheet hyping the proposal: These Tax returns prepared by certain types of preparers have high error rates. These preparers charge taxpayers large fees while exposing them to costly audits. As... Read more →


One of the many reasons that people hate taxes is that after the hassle of filing, then comes the fear that a Form 1040 mistake will mean an audit. The sort-of good news for taxpayers is that the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been auditing as many people in recent years. The agency has had other things to worry about, like doing its myriad jobs with fewer staff and less money. Then there's COVID-19, with added pandemic payments that the IRS is tasked with distributing. Things could be changing, though. More people are getting vaccinated, meaning the end of the coronavirus... Read more →


Rather than heavy equipment, the IRS needs legislative and fiscal help to close its $1 trillion Tax Gap. If you've thought the $441 million figure that the Internal Revenue Service has for years cited as the Tax Gap is too low, you are not alone. None other than the IRS commissioner agrees that there is more tax money that's owed than the agency has been able to collect. A whole lot more. At an April 13 hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig estimated that the actual Tax Gap could be as much as $1 trillion. That's... Read more →


Bernie Madoff leaving a court hearing in 2009. Bernard "Bernie" Lawrence Madoff died on April 14 in a federal prison medical facility where he was being treated for terminal kidney disease. The 82-year-old had been in jail since 2009 for orchestrating the world's largest Ponzi scheme. Madoff pleaded guilty on March 12, 2009, to 11 federal crimes, including operating the financial fraud that bilked as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries over two decades. He was sentenced three months later to the maximum 150 years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution of $170 billion. At the time of... Read more →


While the Internal Revenue Service is working on recalculating taxes paid on unemployment benefits by early filers, other taxpayers are dealing with potential tax bills on money they didn't get. They are victims of unemployment insurance fraud. And their numbers increased last year as millions of people filed for the jobless assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help people dealing with unemployment identity theft, the Department of Labor (DoL) has launched a new website. Alerted by mail: Many don't learn that unemployment benefits have been fraudulently collected in their names until they receive something in the mail.... Read more →


Ah, college days. Studying, working between and after classes and now trying to avoid becoming a tax scam victim. (Photo by Tim Gouw via Unsplash) Many college students shoehorn jobs into their study schedules to help pay for their continuing educations. In addition to pocketing that cash throughout the year, many of these young workers also look forward at filing time to tax refunds from their jobs. So do crooks. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of an ongoing phishing scam in which the perpetrators are targeting education institutions, including students and staff with email addresses ending in the .edu... Read more →


New COVID-19 laws have been a lifeline for many individuals and businesses as the United States. They've also created new opportunities for crooks. The Internal Revenue Service, specifically its Criminal Investigation (CI) Division, is well aware of the increased tax-related coronavirus crimes. To mark the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, CI officials today discussed the unit's success in combatting fraud related to the Economic Impact Payments, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and claims of the Employee Retention Credit. The CI's commemoration is particularly timely. It comes just one day after a Texas man... Read more →


The third round of coronavirus economic impact payments are on their way. So are con artists trying to convince financially strapped folks that there are easier ways to get the government payments of up to $1,400 per person. Don't fall for the lies. Some of the just-approved $1,400 COVID-19 relief payments will be delivered by local postal carriers. Others will get their coronavirus cash by direct deposit or Treasury-authorized debit cards. Be on the lookout for the payments, as well as crooks trying to steal them and your identity. The latest COVID-19 economic relief plan, officially known as the American... Read more →


Today's unemployment numbers offered a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The news, however, is not so good for many who in 2020 got these out-of-work benefits. Many recipients of the emergency financial assistance are surprised to learn that unemployment benefits are taxable. Others are even more surprised at the amounts on their Form 1099-G. This is the document sent to taxpayers and copied to the Internal Revenue Service. While social media messages and comments on the ol' blog are purely anecdotal, it seems that quite a few folks think their 2020 unemployment benefits have... Read more →


Tax preparers nationwide already are working on clients' returns. Crooks also are working to steal info on and from those tax professionals. The Internal Revenue Service won't start accepting and processing 2020 tax returns until Feb. 12. Tax professionals, however, have been working of their clients returns since the new year arrived. That means tax criminals also doing their so-called jobs. The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry today announced that there's a new scam email being sent to tax professionals. The phishing message impersonates the IRS and attempts to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). While... Read more →


If you want more security for your tax return, the Internal Revenue Service has a deal for you. Every taxpayer now can apply for an Identity Protection Personal Identity Number, or IP PIN. An IP PIN lets the IRS verify that it is indeed you who has filed your tax return. Once you have the six-digit code, the agency won't accept an electronically filed return in your name without it. If a paper return shows up without the IP PIN, it will get added IRS scrutiny. "This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP... Read more →


Remember when you were a kid and you told mom about the latest misdeed committed by your little brother. Oh, wait. Maybe that's just me reminiscing. And as I recall, while my mother was glad to know when my younger sibling did or was about to do something (I was a proactive big sister!) that was dangerous (he was the more adventurous one), she emphasized that continually tattling about everything Ben did that annoyed me was not productive. And I never got rewarded for my snitching observations. My mother would not have made a very good Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower... Read more →


There's some bad and not-so-bad news when it comes to the recently discovered hacking of the Treasury Department. Since we're still in god-awful 2020, let's start with the bad news. The hackers, believed by most security experts and many government officials to be Russian, were able to burrow deeply into the U.S. Treasury's computer operations, breaking into systems that are used by the department's highest-ranking officials. The better news is that the Internal Revenue Service, the largest division within Treasury, appears to be unaffected by the cyber attack. That's a relief to those of us who upon hearing that Treasury... Read more →


Plain old tobacco cigarette smuggling is costing many states much-needed tax revenue. Yes, the House last week decided to decriminalize marijuana. The bill's bipartisan passage (really!) was the first ever Capitol Hill vote to legalize — and tax— cannabis. It's not going anywhere in the waning days of the 116th Congress. It might have a shot in the next one, which convenes in January 2021, depending on what happens with Georgia's runoffs for two Senate seats. The federal stance on weed is frustrating for the 36 states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes, along with the 15 jurisdictions... Read more →


Among the many things COVID-19 has changed, possibly forever, is how and where we do our jobs. The work from home trend also has provided cyber criminals new ways to steal our identities and money — corporate cash, too — using telework security lapses and system flaws. TGIF! Yeah, workers still say this. However, there's a little less exultation in the announcement nowadays, what with many of us still working from home due to continuing coronavirus pandemic precautions. Plus, COVID-19 means our prior welcome weekend happy hours now are via Zoom. The work from home (WFH) shift also has created... Read more →


As we head into December, holiday shopping begins in earnest. Today's Cyber Monday is expected to be the busiest ever, as millions have shifted to online purchasing of just about everything during the COVID-19 pandemic. This increasing burst of internet transactions also means more chances for crooks to steal your payment and personal information. Much of the data that criminals are trying to snag this holiday shopping season also can be used during the rapidly approaching 2021 tax season to steal you tax identity and use it to file a fake return claiming a fraudulent tax refund. That's why on... Read more →


We don't have an image of D.B. Cooper parachuting from a hijacked jetliner Thanksgiving week 1971, but he did jump out over some dense Oregon woods that likely looked a lot like these. (Photo by ankiyay via Pexels) Last week was the weirdest Thanksgiving holiday ever for many of us. In addition to dealing with possible family confrontations in the wake of the most contentious post-election period in modern memory, we had to adjust to pandemic complicated get-togethers. That's why an anniversary probably slipped by you. During Thanksgiving week 49 years ago, a tall thin man, dressed in a business... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges for Internal Revenue Service's law enforcement branch, but also was part of its successes during the last fiscal year. During the 2020 accounting period, which started Oct. 1, 2019, and ran through Sept. 30, 2020, the IRS' Criminal Investigation (CI) Division initiated nearly 1,598 investigations and identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud schemes. Some of those investigations were into COVID-19 related illegal activity. "Unfortunately, criminals don’t stop committing crimes just because there is a national health emergency. In fact, some criminals pounce on the opportunity to take advantage of others as well as government... Read more →


Marco Verch via Flickr Halloween's tomorrow. Have your youngsters (and you!) picked out who or what they (and you!) want to be? When I was very young, I went trick-or-treating for several years as my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. Nowadays, though, kiddos tend to opt for other outfits. Over the years, the hubby and I have opened our front door on Oct. 31 to candy-craving athletes, superheroes and the occasional real-life occupation, such as a firefighter or astronaut or physician. With COVID-19 haunting this Halloween, we all might see more health care costumes sprinkled among the traditional goblins and... Read more →


Robert Smith surprised the 2019 class of Morehouse College graduates with a pledge to pay off their student loans. Watch the happy moment via Bloomberg Quick Take on YouTube. It was one of last year's best feel-good stories. On May 19, 2019, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith promised graduates of Morehouse College listening to his commencement address that he would pay off their college debt. The approximately 400 grads at the historically black college in Atlanta were stunned. Then delighted. And the country cheered Smith's benevolence and commitment to making at least a little bit of the United... Read more →