Tag Archive for Tax Crimes

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part III

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III. Cash-Hoard Defense

In the indirect methods of proof, the government must prove one of two things: either (1) an increase in net worth or (2) that deposits made by the defendant into his bank account were not reported as income. The most common defense to these indirect methods is that the defendant had substantial quantities of cash at the beginning of the period under investigation. This defense is known as the cash hoard defense.

A typical cash hoard defense asserts that the defendant in earlier years received gifts or an inheritance from family and/or friends, which he then spent during the prosecution period. The Supreme Court of the United States described the cash hoard defense as Read more

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part II

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II. Good-Faith Belief Defense

A key element of most tax crimes is willfulness. The government must show that the defendant willfully evaded taxes or willfully filed a false return. This means that the government must prove that (1) the defendant knew what was required by law and, (2) notwithstanding, intentionally violated the law.

This definition raises several opportunities for the defense. For example, the defendant may introduce evidence that he was mistaken as to the state of the law or that he had a good-faith misunderstanding as to what the law provided. Such a defense would negate willfulness and would enable the jury to acquit. On the other hand, a good-faith belief that Read more

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part I

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I. Forgotten-Deduction Defense

In a tax evasion case, the government bears the burden of proving that the defendant had a substantial tax deficiency. Defendants often try to show that there was no deficiency, that their return was substantially accurate, or at least raise questions pertaining to the government’s calculations. The argument usually goes something like this: “I had unclaimed deductions.”

The most famous example of this is United States v. Helmsley, 941 F.2d 71 (2d Cir. 1991). There, the defendant used one method of depreciation on her return. When the government charged her with tax evasion and put on evidence of a deficiency, the Read more

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Introduction

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Affirmative defenses are rare in criminal tax cases. The government has the burden to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the burden is generally on the government to prove all the relevant facts to the jury, and the defendant may simply put on evidence that will counter the government’s proof.

What this means is that the defendant can deny having the required mental state to commit tax evasion without shifting the burden from the prosecution to himself to prove that he lacked the required mental state. Indeed, the burden remains firmly on the prosecution. Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 524 (1979). To the extent that the Read more

Internet Enables Thieves To Steal $4 Billion In Tax Refunds

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Criminals are utilizing their Internet connection to file false tax returns that help them steal refunds from the innocent. In 2013, fraudulent returns saw almost $4 billion sent into the hands of scam artists. Making things worse is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service is having a hard time stopping the fraud from happening in the first place.

The United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, says that 880 people have been charged to date, but also says that the scale and scope of the tax fraud schemes has grown substantially. Holder has been a victim of tax fraud himself. Two Georgia men recently plead guilty to charges stemming from their attempt to get a refund by using Holder’s name, Social Security number and date of birth on returns. Read more

Can I Be Extradited For Commiting A Tax Crime?

treatyExtradition, the formal surrendering of a person by one country to another country in order that the fugitive may be prosecuted or punished, often depends on the existence of an extradition treaty.  While the United States has attempted extradition proceedings in the absence of a treaty, the US courts have generally not supported these attempts and so, the bite of law enforcement may be somewhat limited in the absence of an appropriate extradition treaty.

An extradition treaty is in the nature of an agreement or contract between its signatory countries.  Extradition treaties have been signed between the US and over one hundred nations throughout the world.

Most treaties contain a list of crimes for which extradition may be granted such as murder; voluntary manslaughter; rape; unlawful abortion; kidnapping; burglary; larceny; embezzlement; fraud; bribery and so on.

Modern Treaties Permit Extradition For Felony Offenses

The more modern extradition treaties embrace a so-called “dual criminality approach”. Under this approach the act in question must be a crime under the laws of both the USA and the country where the fugitive is taking refuge.  Under these treaties, generally speaking, all felonies are extraditable offenses.  Such modern treaties also delineate various classes of offenses the commission of which would not be grounds for  extradition (these include for example, military and political offenses; offenses carrying capital punishment; crimes that are punishable under only the laws of one of the treaty signatories; crimes committed outside the country seeking extradition; instances when the fugitive is a national of the country in which extradition is sought and so on). Read more