No one is beyond the certainty of taxes, as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, discovered last week. Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for taking cash and checks donated to the Diocese by parishioners and depositing them into his personal bank account to pay for personal expenses. The court found that the priest embezzled a total of $1.4 million from the Catholic Church and, by concealing the embezzlement from his return preparer, evaded over $500,000 in income taxes owed to the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning to tax professionals to be alert to a new e-mail scam that impersonates tax software providers and attempts to steal usernames and passwords. Recipients of these e-mails are told that, due to a recent software upgrade, the tax preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider's actual login page. However, instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers' accounts and steal client information.
Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, pleaded guilty on July 19, 2017, to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States as the head of a team of bankers for Credit Suisse AG between 2002 and 2011. She was responsible for the accounts of over 1,000 clients and handled approximately $400 million in assets. Her conduct led to an estimated U.S. tax loss of between $3.5 and $9.5 million. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for early September 2017; Rüegg Meier faces a maximum of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, and restitution penalties.
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.
Darryl Genis, a 60-year-old DUI attorney practicing in Santa Barbara County, California, pled guilty recently to three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns between 2009 and 2011, and admitted to willfully failing to pay taxes for the same years, totaling nearly $680,000. He also admitted to underpaying taxes for the years 2005 through 2012. Genis agreed to pay civil penalties for all years at issue, and he faces up to three years of imprisonment.
A self-employed chiropractor based in Hayward, California, was found liable for penalties for failure to file tax returns for eight years with the intent to conceal, mislead, or otherwise prevent the collection of tax. The original IRS investigation of Dr. Ramon Reynoso began in 2003. In April 2008, he pleaded guilty to criminal income tax evasion for only one tax year. Subsequently, the Commissioner issued notices of deficiency for tax years 1997 through 2004. Dr. Reynoso filed a Tax Court petition to dispute the penalties assessed for fraudulent failure to file, failure to timely pay, and failure to pay estimated taxes.
What happens when the chief of staff to a Congressman (and former Democratic staff director for the Homeland Security Committee) fails to file or pay income tax for six or more years in a row? It appears, not much.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a new warning for taxpayers about this year's unprecedented increase in attempted tax fraud. This summer has seen an increase in "robo-calls," where scammers leave threatening voicemail messages. When taxpayers call back, they are threatened with arrest, deportation, or revocation of their driver's license for non-payment.
The US Department of Justice recently determined that the Singapore affiliate of UBS (UBS AG) "has complied with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) summons for bank records" related to a taxpayer whose liabilities are at issue. The international financial institution refused to produce the records when first served the summons. After a petition was filed to enforce the summons formally, UBS and the IRS resolved the matter amicably and the petition was voluntarily dismissed.
Filing tax returns can be stressful, which is one reason many taxpayers hire a trusted professional to handle their returns for them. But what happens if your tax preparer turns out to be less trustworthy than you thought?