Tag Archive for tax fraud

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

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

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

Biggest Tax Fraud In History Ends In Sentencing of Ex-Lawyer To Fifteen Years In Prison

In a case dubbed “the biggest criminal tax fraud in history” by federal prosecutors, former lawyer Paul Daugardas was sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping wealthy clients dodge taxes. However, if you blinked, you might have missed it. Why? Mr. Daugedas was sentenced back on June 25, 2014, just a week after the IRS’s historic announcement that it had overhauled the voluntary disclosure program. Therefore, no matter how ground-breaking this story might have been, because it didn’t bear some relation to the major OVDP announcement, it was all but ignored by the media.

I’ve been following the Daugerdas saga ever since U.S. District Judge William Pauley threw out his earlier conviction and ordered a new trial. Right about now, you might be saying, “Wait. Back up. You’re telling me that Daugerdas had been previously convicted of Read more

Scammers Try To Fool Tax And Business Lawyers

Most of my clients from around the world make their initial contact by email. It is usually a result of my website, blog posts (published on Tax Connections) and Avvo. Usually, they need a lawyer to negotiate a contract or deal with the IRS or State Tax agencies.

When I get an email from a foreign business, even if the English is not perfect, I respond. Unfortunately, the scam artists love a response and try their version of the famous “Nigerian Scam.” The trick usually works that I need to review a simple contract, receive payment from the buyer, deposit it in my trust account and immediately send the money (minus an unusually hefty fee) to them. Of course the check is no good and they will sucker me. Read more

Eggshell Audit – What You Need To Know

What is an Eggshell Audit?

An eggshell audit is one in which the taxpayer has filed a fraudulent return in a prior year and the auditor is not aware of potential evidence of civil tax fraud or a criminal tax violation. A tax return is fraudulent if an additional tax is owed due to (i) a deliberate intent to evade tax or (ii) there is a willful and material submission of false statements/documents in connection with the return. It is considered an “eggshell” audit because of the care one must take – i.e. walk on eggshells – to guide the examination and prevent suspicion by the auditor.

What are the Risks of an Eggshell Audit?

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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

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

Ironclad Defenses To Tax Crimes – Part III

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

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

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


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