In a recent tax controversy forum hosted by New York University, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General to the Department of Justice Tax Division (DOJ-Tax), Richard Zuckerman, said that his team is increasing its focus on individuals attempting to use bitcoin and other digital assets to evade taxes. DOJ-Tax is currently prosecuting several criminal cryptocurrency cases, and Zuckerman noted that others are already in process.
A taxpayer recently found out the hard way that if something sounds too good to be true, get a second opinion. His San Francisco-based CPA helped him prepare and file tax returns that failed to report over $18 million in income between December 2007 and September 2013, which resulted in $4.7 million of unpaid tax liabilities. In this case, both the taxpayer and his CPA were indicted; the taxpayer entered into a plea agreement and the tax preparer took his chances --- he lost.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, who formerly appeared on the reality TV series "The Jersey Shore," pleaded guilty to a charge of tax evasion for years in which he concealed a portion of his income to avoid paying the full amount of taxes owed. Sorrentino's brother, Marc, also pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return for underreporting income and providing his tax return preparers with false information.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the fiscal year 2017 annual report for its Criminal Investigation Division (CI). During FY 2017, CI initiated over 3,000 cases concerning Title 18 and Title 31 crimes, with 72.5% of its investigation time spent on tax matters such as refund fraud, identity theft, abusive tax schemes, and cyber crimes. Its investigations identified $2.5 billion in funds related to tax fraud, and the division had a 91.5% overall conviction rate.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has released its semi-annual report to Congress for the period October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017. The reports summarizes data about the agency's notable audits, investigations, inspections, and evaluations to provide oversight to the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) team was recently recognized by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at its third annual Law Enforcement Awards ceremony on May 9, 2017, for the IRS-CI's cyber security work investigating the sale of narcotics on the dark web. Certain targets were identified by the financial information involved in these illegal sales, despite their efforts to conceal the proceeds using Bitcoins and Bitcoin laundering.
On April 25, 2017, eight suspects were arrested in Miami, Florida, by agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSAOIG) for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictments against these individuals include charges for involvement in schemes to impersonate IRS agents in order to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees. The suspects allegedly defrauded over 7,000 victims out of almost $8.8 million.
Be careful who you share your offshore account information with---whistleblowing just got more lucrative. On August 3, 2016, the US Tax Court issued an opinion in a whistleblower claim case finding that the whistleblowers were entitled to an award based upon a percentage of $74,131,694 in tax restitution, a criminal fine, and civil forfeitures paid to the government. 147 T.C. No. 4. The targeted taxpayer pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the IRS and was ordered to pay $20,000,001 in tax restitution, a $22,050,000 criminal fine, and $15,821,000 civil forfeiture.
The Internal Revenue Service has been cracking down on refund fraud and identity theft through the Security Summit initiative and its Criminal Investigation (CI) work. In fiscal year 2015, CI initiated 776 identity theft investigations, which led to 774 sentencings. Individuals found guilty of this type of crime face significant jail time. The average sentence in FY 2015 was 38 months, while the longest sentence was for more than 27 years.
Today the IRS announced the release of the Criminal Investigation 2015 Annual Report. The report covers current investigative priorities, statistics on investigations and prosecutions, staffing decreases, summaries of high profile prosecutions, and a variety of other topics related to criminal tax programs.