Tax evasion Feed

Darth Maul apparently — spoiler alert — was killed in The Phantom Menace, but later showed up in subsequent Star Wars productions. His persistence is akin phantom investment transactions that are created simply to lower multinational companies' tax bills. (Photo via Lucasfilm) What I consider the real Star Wars trilogy came out when I was in college. That's why I've not bothered to see any of the subsequent sequel/prequel movies. But they came to mind last week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the University of Copenhagen released a new study on the growth of so-called phantom capital and... Read more →


Al "Scarface" Capone at his sentencing for tax evasion. Back in the Prohibition Era, federal agents — notably those from the Internal Revenue Service — took down the notorious gangster. The tax agency's Criminal Investigation agents are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. (Photo courtesy All That's Interesting: 25 Al Capone Facts) The United States' tax system is based on the premise that all income is taxable, including illegally earned income. Our tax system also relies on the voluntary reporting of that income, including ill-gotten gains. But human nature being what it is, that doesn't always happen, even with legally... 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 →


Much is made of the United States' voluntary compliance tax system. The IRS depends on every taxpayer to honestly and accurately report his or her earnings and figure the correct tax due on the amounts. Apparently, we agree with the self-reporting system, with most taxpayers saying cheating on taxes is wrong. Of course, part of the reason we look askance at fudging Form 1040 figures is because we're afraid the IRS will catch us. However, our fear of a tax audit might be exaggerated, according to the latest IRS Data Book. Fewer return reviews: Audits, or examinations as they're called... 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 →


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 →


You didn't file your taxes by the April deadline but you had a really good reason. Or did you? Excuses people make for not filing their taxes are right up there with rationalizations for claiming weird deductions. Both are creative exercises par excellence. And both will get you in bit trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. What won't fly: The Internal Revenue Code as we know it has been around since 1913. That means that for more than a century, Uncle Sam has heard just about every excuse for not getting a Form 1040 in on time or at all.... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


One of my favorite recent TV shows was The Americans, FX's series on embedded Russian spies during the 1980s Cold War. For six seasons, we fans watched the couple known to their suburban Washington, D.C. neighbors as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings raise their two U.S.-born children, run their small travel agency and spy, sometimes in deadly fashion, for their native U.S.S.R. One of the underlying themes was how well and easily the Jennings assimilated into the America they were trying to bring down. It's a common trope, but one done well and with nuance by the television program. A radio... Read more →


IRS headquarters image by Kari Bluff via Flickr Creative Commons The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for taxpayers and sort of good news for its staff. The agency is calling back more than half — specifically, 46,052 or almost 55 percent of its more than 80, 265 — employees. These are workers who, according to the updated government shutdown contingency plan issued Jan. 15 by the Treasury Department, are necessary for the IRS "to continue return processing activities to the extent necessary to protect Government property, which includes tax revenue, and maintain the integrity of the federal tax... Read more →


Tax refund delivery isn't the only tax function that likely would be delayed if the federal government is shut down for an appreciable length of time. Tax audits, or examinations at the Internal Revenue Service calls them, also will be sidelined if fewer agency employees are at work. A lot of folks say that's not a problem. I get it. Nobody likes tax audits, even — maybe especially — when you haven't intentionally done anything wrong with your tax filing. But audits are a key component of taxpayer compliance. Why audits are important: The rationale for auditing returns comes from... Read more →


Public shaming is seen by some as a way to get folks to pay overdue taxes. If you're naughty when it comes to paying — or rather not paying — your California tax bill, then everybody, not just Santa, can know. That's the official word from the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's top jurists decided on Monday, Dec. 10, that they won't consider a case challenging California's tax delinquent list. That means the names of the state's Top 500 tax delinquents will remain public. No High Court hearing: At issue was the Golden State law that requires the publication of... Read more →


This dog might not feel as guilty as he looks, but shame can be useful in some tax collection situations. (Photo by Ansel Edwards/Flickr) When I was a kid and did something I wasn't supposed to, all it took was one quick glance from my mom to make me feel so ashamed. I'm not sure even my mother's steely look would work nowadays on kids who've grown up on reality TV and who make their every move, good or bad, public on social media. But when it comes to taxes, shame seems to work. Many U.S. jurisdictions post the names... Read more →


The Trump children gathered for this undated family photo. They are, from left, Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry. A piece of information filed years ago during Barry's judicial confirmation hearing led to a New York Times' exposé on the family's wealth and tax tactics. (Donald J. Trump presidential campaign photo) Talk about an awkward Thanksgiving. It seems that Donald J. Trump's oldest sister is how The New York Times got the inside info on the Trump family fortune and taxes. You know of the story even if you haven't yet read... 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 →


The courthouse where a federal jury on Aug. 21 found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges, including five tax evasion counts. Could he also face state charges? (Photo via Google Earth) It's the day after bombshell revelations in two federal courtrooms and the political and tax world is still abuzz. Almost simultaneously on Tuesday, Aug. 21, afternoon, two of Donald J. Trump's former presidential campaign officials faced serious legal judgments in two separate courtrooms. In New York City, Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight federal felony counts of tax and bank fraud, as well as campaign finance law... Read more →