Tax crimes Feed

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 →


John McAfee's banner image on his Twitter account. If you've waiting until the upcoming October extension deadline to file, chances are you wanted the extra time to ensure that you got your filing right. That's smart. Making mistakes or overlooking tax breaks could cost you, not only money but also time if you end up having to answer Internal Revenue Service questions about your filing. And when an audit — or examination as the IRS likes to call the process — definitely doesn't go your way, you could end up in more trouble. That's what happened to John David McAfee.... Read more →


A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


More than 160 million people have received the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) that was approved in late March. Still, says the Internal Revenue Service, that's not everyone who's eligible for the relief money. In fact, the tax agency says around nine million Americans still are due the stimulus. But to get it this year, they need to contact the IRS. And the IRS will be sending them a special letter later this month to encourage them to file for the relief payment, preferably by Oct. 15. Don't have to file, but qualify for COVID cash: These nine-or-so million folks... Read more →


Tax revenue is critical. It's even more important during a global pandemic when governments worldwide are facing shortfalls due to COVID-19 economic effects. So it's no surprise that tax officials are taking closer looks at possible tax scofflaws. And in many instances, they're getting help from their citizenry. Recent cases in point come from across the pond. Irish tax officials are getting record numbers of so-called good citizen reports of tax evaders. The United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs has boosted payments to those tipping it off about tax dodgers. Part of the reason for Ireland's impressive increase in tax... Read more →


If you live in Ireland and are thinking of playing a little fast and loose when it comes to taxes, make sure no one is looking. That could be harder than you think. Judging from government statistics, tax evasion reports from the public continue to increase. Last year, nearly 6,000 people filed so-called good citizen reports with Irish Tax and Customs, that nation's version of the United States' Internal Revenue Service. More reports in last five years: These alerts of suspected (or known) tax evasion or other illegal activity have grown exponentially since mid-2015. That's when Irish tax officials began... Read more →


If tax it the time of coronavirus taught us anything, it's that tax professionals are indispensable. On the heels of getting a handle on the 2017 tax reform changes, tax pros this filing season were handed even more jobs. They helped people understand COVID-19 economic relief payments, what tax tasks were delayed until when and the Paycheck Protection Program. And now, just days after Tax Day 2020 finally came and went, another coronavirus stimulus package, no doubt with more tax implications, is in the works. The bottom line is that tax help from a reputable tax pro is critical, in... Read more →


You're following all the recommended pandemic precautions. You stay home. You have your groceries and meals delivered. If you must go out, it's for drive-through or curbside pickup of necessary items. You always wear a mask when you leave your home. But you still might not be safe from the latest iteration of the coronavirus outbreak. This time, though, it's not medical, but financial. Scammers are coming to us via emails and phone calls, using a variety of tricks to get their hands on our COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIPs) and other funds. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI)... Read more →


This U.S. Department of Justice mug shot of Al Capone was taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. It's 89 years, later and Scarface still gets our attention, most recently in a movie about his later days. If there's one tiny sliver of silver lining in coronavirus self-isolation, it's that I feel a bit better about shelling out money for added television features. During our stay-home time, the hubby and I are taking advantage of premium cable, as well as the multiple streaming platforms to which we subscribe. Right now, my viewing tastes are winning.... Read more →