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Tag Archive for Tax Crimes

How To Avoid Becoming The Next “Cooked Goose” Gracing The IRS’s Offshore Tax Evasion Table This Thanksgiving – Part II

II. Essential Elements of Tax Crimes

a. Willfulness

One small word is all that distinguishes a civil tax matter from a criminal tax matter. That pestilent word is called “willfulness.” It is the cornerstone to any criminal tax matter.

In the criminal setting, the government carries the heavy burden of proving – beyond a reasonable doubt – that the taxpayer acted willfully. Willfulness is defined as an “intentional violation of a known legal duty.”

i. Proving Willfulness For Purposes of the Crime of Failure to File a FBAR Read more

How To Avoid Becoming The Next “Cooked Goose” Gracing The IRS’s Offshore Tax Evasion Table This Thanksgiving – Part I

If your name was mentioned in the same sentence as Raoul Weil, Carl Zwerner, or Ty Warner, you can rest assured that you haven’t been nominated for an academy award or a Pulitzer Prize. Nor did you win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Award. Instead, you’d have joined a disgraced group of taxpayers who have had the misfortune of being targeted by the U.S. government in their crusade to stamp out offshore tax evasion.

In stark comparison is John Doe, a conflicted taxpayer who recently entered the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). Neighbors and friends who run into John are a captive audience for him as he wallows in his self-pity. John regrets the decision to enter OVDP and tells his tale of woe to anyone who will listen: “I don’t know what I’m doing in this program. I know 500 people with foreign accounts like mine, and they’re not coming Read more

Tax Court Affirms Net-Worth Method Used to Support Fraud Determination Against Surf Shop Owners

If you think that by keeping sloppy records, the IRS cannot determine how much income you earned – think again.

The Worth family, Donald, Marie, and their son, Frank, operated a chain of seven surf and skateboard shops across California, called White Sands. Their business was selected for audit by the IRS. In the course of the audit the IRS learned that Frank was responsible for about half of the stores and Donald and Marie operated the other half. Marie also managed the books and prepared tax returns. As manager of the heavily cash-based business, Frank had the authority to write checks on certain White Sands bank accounts, wrote checks or used cash to pay vendors for merchandise as it came in, and wrote checks to reimburse himself for business expenses he paid. Frank also supervised Read more

What You Need To Know About Tax Evasion

The most common federal tax crime is tax evasion, which is specifically defined in 26 U.S.C. § 7201 as a failure to report taxes, reporting taxes inaccurately, or failing to pay taxes. To establish a case for tax evasion under section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), the government must prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt: that the taxpayer attempted to evade or defeat a tax or payment of a tax; an additional tax was due and owing; and the taxpayer acted willfully. If the IRS proves its case for tax evasion against a taxpayer, the penalty can be significant including monetary fines and jail time.

Who Can Be Prosecuted for Tax Evasion?

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What Does The Raoul Weil Case Mean To You?

Iconic mobster Al Capone died in prison after he was convicted of tax evasion. More recently, after the notorious Lufthansa robbery that was immortalized in 1990’s Goodfellas, Jimmy the Gent went to prison not for his alleged role in the robbery but for a point-shaving scandal involving the Boston College basketball team. It could be that crime syndicate figures portrayed by actor Robert De Niro have a certain susceptibility to financial crimes prosecutions, or there could be something else at work.

Tax evasion and other financial crimes in New Jersey are often substitute prosecutions. Traditionally, tax evasion has been easy to prove: there are accurate and timely returns on file, or there are not. “You want to put a murderer in jail for not paying his taxes?” asked a befuddled Elliot Ness in the De Palma version of The Untouchables. Read more

Chicago Lawyer with Portfolio of Celebrity Clients Indicted On Charges of Tax Fraud

Gary Stern is the latest professional to become ensnared in the coils of the criminal justice system. The once prominent lawyer who represented NFL players, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals has been charged with tax fraud. Federal prosecutors allege that Stern organized, operated, and promoted elaborate and bogus tax schemes, primarily to help his wealthy clients evade federal income taxes. For as complicated a strategy as these tax schemes might have been, they can be reduced to something so simple that even a caveman could do it: claiming millions of dollars in tax credits.

Specifically, the charges relate to preparing fraudulent tax returns and impeding the operation of the IRS. A federal indictment filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleges that from 2006 to 2010, Gary J. Stern, “corruptly obstructed and impeded” the IRS Read more

Ex-Seyfarth Shaw Attorney Case: The Latest in a Series of Department of Justice Prosecutions For Tax Shelter Fraud

Recently, tax shelters have become the target of much prosecution by the Department of Justice. In the largest criminal tax case ever filed, professional services company KMPG LLP admitted to engaging in fraud and generating at least $11 billion dollars in false tax losses. The multi-billion dollar criminal tax fraud conspiracy involved the elaborate design, marketing, and implementation of fraudulent tax shelters.

Since the 2005 KPMG indictment and subsequent guilty plea, the Department of Justice has continued in its quest to uncover instances of tax shelter fraud. The case of Chicago tax lawyer and former Seyfarth Shaw LLP partner, John E. Rogers, is among the latest in a series of tax shelter fraud criminal prosecutions. Starting in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice targeted John E. Rogers, ex-Seyfarth Shaw LLP partner, with a civil suit alleging he Read more

L.A. Fashion District: The Most Recent Target of the U.S. Government’s Crackdown On Money Laundering And The BMPE

The Los Angeles Fashion District spans 100 blocks, with over 2,000 businesses selling fashions and accessories at 30% to 70% off retail prices.

Saturdays are the busiest Los Angeles Fashion District shopping days, when wholesale-only shops open to the general public. The Sunday shopping epicenter is Santee Alley, between Olympic and Pico Boulevards, where you’ll find low prices, lots of knock-offs and fakes.

Thanks to a recent raid of dozens of businesses in the Fashion District, rock bottom prices and a wide-selection of clothing isn’t all that the Fashion District is now known for. Law enforcement operations have revealed that money laundering activities and Read more

Caribbean-Based Investment Advisor Nabbed for Using Offshore Accounts to Launder Funds

For those of you who might be wondering, the cartoon-image that accompanies this blog is not meant to portray any of the defendants in this case. However, that does not mean that it is there for no apparent reason. On the contrary, it is intended to represent someone (or perhaps some people). I’ll give you a hint. The image itself is a bit of a paradox. Sound confusing? You’ll have to keep reading to find out its hidden meaning. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Joshua Vandyk met a terrible fate on Friday, September 5, 2014. The thirty-four year old investment advisor was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison for conspiring to launder monetary instruments. Read more

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part V

V. Statute of Limitations Defense

Perhaps the most important affirmative defense in tax cases is the statute of limitations. Section 6531 controls the statute of limitations periods for most criminal tax offenses. Under section 6531, the general rule is that the statute of limitations for criminal tax offenses is three years. However, the exceptions to the three-year rule essentially swallow up the general rule.

The CTM includes a helpful table that sets forth the limitations periods for common tax offenses: Read more

Standards For Prosecuting Tax Crimes And What They Mean For The Public

The government is not required to prosecute persons whom it believes has violated the law. Certainly, in the tax context, only a small percentage of people who are known or reasonably suspected to have committed a tax crime are investigated and prosecuted. Judgment calls abound – from the first discovery of information through prosecution.

Given the limited resources that can be applied to tax prosecutions, the government must be highly selective. The ability to “pick and choose” which cases it prosecutes is the reason why it has such a high conviction rate. The message from Uncle Sam to taxpayers is this: “Sure, we don’t prosecute all tax cheats, but if we get you in our prosecution cross-hairs, you are dead.” Read more

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part IV

IV. Fifth Amendment Defense

Criminal tax cases are chock full of constitutional claims made by defendants. The tax protest movement, in particular, has spawned many constitutional defenses, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

A valid constitutional defense is the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In United States v. Sullivan, 274 U.S. 259 (1927), the Supreme Court of the United States held that the privilege against self-incrimination is not a defense to prosecution for failure to file. In other words, a defendant may not rely on the Fifth Amendment to not file at all.

However, the Court said that the privilege could be asserted, in appropriate Read more

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