Sep 122012
 
IRS $104 Million Whistleblower Payment Should Make Foreign Account Holders Nervous

Bradley Birkenfeld, a former UBS AG bank executive, was instrumental in helping U.S. authorities expose tax evasion facilitated by the Swiss banking giant.  The information Birkenfeld provided led to an investigation that ultimately resulted in a 2009 settlement between the United States and UBS, with the latter agreeing to pay $780 million in fines and to turn over the names of thousands of Americans suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes.  This settlement would be the precursor to the breaking of the backbone of the Swiss banking industry as a haven for tax-dodgers.  On Tuesday, Birkenfeld got his More…

Aug 312012
 

A Florida Miccosukee Indian tribe is learning that not even sovereign Indian nations can escape the long arm of the IRS.  An attorney for the tribe appeared in front of a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to argue that the IRS has no explicit authority to subpoena banks for tribal records.  The judges did not seem to be impressed with the tribe attorney’s argument that, “”when it comes to Indian tribes there has to be specific mention in the statute that applies to them,” pointing out that Indian tribes are included in broad More…

Jul 062012
 
Taxpayer Advocate Service Report Highlights Growing Problem Of Taxpayer Identity Theft

In our last post, we discussed the release of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2013 Objectives Report To Congress and the material therein which addressed the issue of the IRS’ increasing use of automation when dealing with taxpayers.  The report also details the growing concern of taxpayer identity theft, something we have previously discussed on numerous occasions. According to the report, “[i]dentity theft wreaks havoc on our tax system in many ways.  Victims of identity theft not only must deal with the aftermath of an emotionally draining crime, but may also have to deal with the IRS for years to untangle More…

Jun 262012
 
IRS To Revamp Whistleblower Program After Participation Falls Off

A recent IRS report on the whistleblower program has found that tax collections from tipsters fell sharply last year, prompting announced changes to the program.  The whistleblower program gathers information from people who want to alert the IRS about tax cheating in exchange for monetary rewards.  Over the years, the program has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the government that would not have been collected without whistleblower tips.  However, in 2011, the IRS reported only $48 million from the program, down from $464 million in 2010 and the lowest reported amount since 2004. The More…

May 032012
 
Professional Football Players Charged In Florida Tax Scam

Three former professional football players are among eight individuals who have been charged in a South Florida tax refund and identity theft scheme.  William Joseph of the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders; Michael Bennett of the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders; and Louis Gachelin of the NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy, are accused of cashing dozens of fraudulently obtained tax refund checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal prosecutors revealed that the FBI was operating an undercover check-cashing store in North Miami that was used by the More…

Apr 252012
 
Florida Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Wire Fraud

According to the Justice Department and the IRS, Ernst Pierre, a Florida tax preparer, plead guilty on April 24, 2012, to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Pierre was charged with a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identity information. Identity theft in relation to tax fraud is a fast-growing crime across the country.  One reason for identity theft’s rise may be the fact that it is relatively easy.  Experts say identity thieves generally need only three pieces of information to file a fraudulent tax return electronically: a name, a Social Security number and a birth More…

Feb 172012
 
IRS Releases 2012 List Of The  “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams

Once again, tax season is upon us and the IRS has issued the annual “dirty dozen” tax scams. Topping this year’s list is identity theft.  In response to growing identity theft concerns, the IRS has declared its intent to embark on a comprehensive strategy that is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible.  In addition to the law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued and has been working to help victims of the identity theft refund schemes. The entire list is More…

Jan 122012
 
IRS Reopens Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)

Previously, we posted a blog detailing the announcement by Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, that it intended to disclose confidential client account data to the Swiss tax authorities, who would then decide whether to disclose it to the IRS.  At that time, we examined the closure of the 2011 “voluntary disclosure” program, wherein those with offshore undisclosed accounts are given the opportunity to report their holdings without fear of criminal prosecution, and speculated as to whether the IRS would extend another opportunity for Credit Suisse clients to make a full and voluntary disclosure. Now it appears that the More…

Nov 092011
 
Swiss Bank Credit Suisse Agrees To Disclose U.S. Client Data To The IRS

Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, has informed its U.S. clients that it intends to disclose confidential client account data to the Swiss taxing authorities, who will then decide whether to disclose it to the IRS.  This development comes as the U.S. has been conducting criminal probes of 11 Swiss financial institutions, and as U.S. and Swiss officials are concluding talks on a civil settlement that could require Swiss banks to pay billions of dollars in restitution and hand over the names of thousands of U.S. citizens who have undocumented accounts. Some might recall a similar incident in February More…

Oct 112011
 
Federal Government Prevails Against Tax Shelters

The Justice Department recently declared victory in three different tax shelter cases.  “These three significant decisions are further evidence that the courts will not countenance abusive tax shelters, no matter who designs them or how complicated they are,” said John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.  “Large corporations and wealthy individuals should think twice before pouring money into these sham arrangements.” As described by the Justice Department, details for the three cases were as follows: In Southgate Master Fund LLC v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based More…