The Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration sole purpose is giving the IRS shit about anything and everything under the sun. This is known.
WASHINGTON- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should make better use of the third-party data it receives from employers, government agencies and financial institutions to reduce erroneous refunds, increase revenues and promote voluntary compliance, according to a new audit report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
TIGTA found that the IRS:
• Could make better use of available third-party data to identify and prevent more than $1 billion in potentially erroneous refunds;
• Does not have a centralized control point for third-party data requested or received from outside sources; and,
• Lacks a standardized procedure for validating data.
• The report also found that additional validation of taxpayer information using third-party data is needed to validate claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits.
“These problems allow a substantial number of erroneous refunds and credits to be granted that are not allowable by law,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “For example, I am troubled that we found a lack of adequate corrective action by the IRS to address improper claims in the EITC Program, which is particularly vulnerable to fraud.”
TIGTA recommended that the IRS freeze refunds for those taxpayers with potentially invalid EITC claims, require valid responses before allowing the EITC claims, and adjust the returns if taxpayers do not respond within a specific time period.
The IRS disagreed with TIGTA’s recommendations to freeze potentially invalid refunds and to create a centralized control point for all third-party data.
Full Report [TIGTA]
TIGTA: IRS Refuses to Stop Issuing $1 Billion in Erroneous Refund Checks [TaxProf Blog]
About 2,000 firms around the US have received audit letters from the IRS as part of the agency’s Employment Tax National Research Project (NRP). If your firm isn’t one of them, you can’t breathe easy just yet – the agency has indicated that it include a total of 6,000 firms over three years. What’s more, the “examinations will be comprehensive in scope,” and “employers should have all of their records available to expedite these examinations,” the IRS saidhe project last November.
While similar to an audit, an NRP is designed to “take a snapshot of a given taxpayer population in order to determine the compliance (with tax regulations) within that population,” according to this article by Kevin Packman of Holland & Knight. In addition, the companies studied are chosen at random.
The NRP is the first the IRS has undertaken in 25 years. During that time, the agency noted, business practices regarding employment taxes may have changed significantly, prompting the need for study. In particular, the IRS is looking for data that will allow for a better understanding of just how well corporate tax filers comply with regulations. That way, they can focus their efforts on areas of greatest non-compliance.
Equally important, the agency is looking to boost its knowledge of the “employment tax gap.” The tax gap is the difference between the amounts that taxpayers should pay, and the amounts they actually pay on a timely basis. A gap can come about in several ways: non-filing or failure to file a return; underreporting income or overstating deductions; and underpaying the amounts actually owed.
In 2006, the IRS estimated a gap of $290 billion for the year 2001. The bulk of the gap — 80 percent — was due to under-reporting income, the IRS said.
In an effort to close the gap, the National Research Project will focus on several subject areas, noted the law firm of Morgan Lewis:
Worker Classification: The question of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor keeps rearing its head. From the IRS’ point of view, that’s probably because they see a fair amount of misclassification of employees at contractors – which means lost tax revenue. An August 2009 GAO report on the topic referred to a DOL study in 2000 which found that between 10 and 30 percent of firms audited in nine states misclassified at least a portion of their employees. In 1984, the IRS estimated that the misclassification of employees meant a revenue loss of $1.6 billion.
Executive compensation: This includes non-salary compensation, like loans, travel, deferred comp, stock-based compensation and more.
Fringe benefits: The fun stuff some execs get, like the use of company aircraft or cars, club dues, and housing, among other perks, will be under the microscope. The audits may even include benefits like gift cards, employer cafeterias and athletic facilities, Morgan Lewis notes.
Payroll taxes: The agents will examine Forms 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. As part of this, they will look at backup withholding, next-day deposit requirements and Form 1099/W-2 compliance, among other issues.
What can a firm do to prepare in case it receives notice that it will be part of the NRP? As a starting point, management should conduct an internal compliance review. That way, they’ll have a better idea of potential weak points, and to take steps to resolve issues that could prove to be sticking points during an audit, Packman says.
In addition, all CFOs need to recognize that this project “is the beginning of a long-term emphasis by the IRS on employment tax issues,” Packman writes. Once the NRP is wrapped up, the IRS will use the data it has gathered to focus on areas that were shown to have higher rates of noncompliance.
…which is never good.
IRS agents searched Vic’s Food and Spirits, which is owned by Vic Center, at about 9 a.m. Tuesday as well as two other properties owned by Center, said an employee.
“We had a visit,” said Warren Oliver, the tavern’s bartender. “They took all of our lists, numbers and papers — everything, with them.”
Young Buck feels your pain, Warren Oliver.
IRS agents search area tavern [Dayton Daily News]
The most nagtastic wing of the Federal Bureaucracy, the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration, gave an extremely tepid thumbs-up to the IRS today for satisfying the needs of taxpayers using services at Taxpayer Assistance Centers (“TAC”).
If you look at the TIGTA’s report, you’ll find a fairly neutral title, “Surveys of Taxpayers With Tax Account Issues Indicate They Are Satisfied With the Service They Received at Taxpayer Assistance Centers.”
However, if you read the title of the press release you’ll find things take considerably less enthused turn, “TIGTA Survey Finds Taxpayers Generally Satisfied With Level Of Service Received At Taxpayer Assistance Centers.”
Why the unnecessary adverb TIGTA? If you remove the ‘generally’ the title remains informative, so may we ask what the unspoken element is here? Are you insinuating that the IRS sucks at everything else it does and this particular survey just happens to stray from the narrative?
Hell, even Inspector General/Head IRS nag, J. Russell George, was caught off guard and offered the following “what have you done lately,” statement, “The IRS should continuously ensure it is providing the best available service to all taxpayers, including those with tax account issues who visit their Taxpayer Assistance Centers, and find cost-effective ways to do so.”
When asked, “Overall, I was satisfied with the customer service I received from the IRS during my visit to the IRS walk-in office,” 75% of those surveyed responded “Strongly Agree.” If you can get 3 out of 4 people to say that their experience with the IRS was positive rather than “I was giving strong consideration to strangling one of the employees with my shoelace,” you best recognize a job well done.
Because what else could it be?
Police are trying to figure out who sprayed racial slurs in the parking lot of a Hall County building that includes offices for the Internal Revenue Service. The messages invoking the Ku Klux Klan, and obscenities directed at African-Americans were discovered by employees as they arrived to work.
Odds aren’t that bad; approximately 1 in 6. Still doesn’t explain why invoking the Klan was necessary.
The building on Oak Street in Gainesville is home to nearly a half-dozen businesses, including an IRS office. Police told Channel 2’s Diana Davis they had no evidence linking the slurs to one person working in the building.
One employee speculated that the vandals may have a beef with the IRS. “Probably someone was being audited and they were frustrated with the situation and process they were going through. More than likely this is the result of that,” said Christian Saslo.
SO desperate that in addition to appealing his conviction on any possible grounds, that he has hired private dicks (allegedly!) to following Ponzi Schemer du jour (allegedly!) Ken Starr’s wife, Diane Passage.
Passage told the Post, “I was leaving, and I noticed two men trailing behind me. They stood out because they were wearing dark suits on a 90-degree day. They followed me for a block and a half, then I lost them because they were sweating so much. They contacted my doorman and my attorney, and said they wanted information that might help Snipes. He was a client [of Starr] in 2000 but before I met my husband. I have nothing to do with his taxes.”
So, naturally, this is all very confusing, as the connection between the pole dance master’s problems (frozen bank accounts) and Willie Mays Hayes’s problems (looking at 3 years in the joint for tax evasion) is basically nil.
The only that we can come up with is that Wes is reaching the obscurely known “celebrity realizes that they are for real, like really real, going to jail” freak-out stage.
Look, maybe if shotgun-toting IRS Agents kicked down your door and took your video games, a five-figure watch and a movie poster that has far more sentimental value than any of you can appreciate, then you might know Young Buck’s frame of mind.
If not, then you best button it.
Two days after every material possession in your house is taken away (and if you’re a hip-hop artist, material possessions are pretty much everything) you’re bound to re-examine your life.
Brown proposes having his label, Cashville Records, dock his pay $12,500 a month for 60 months, for a total of $750,000. The bankruptcy filing claims Brown earns a total of $19,170 a month.
The entertainer filed for Chapter 13 on Aug. 5. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George C. Paine accepted the proposed plan and ordered the payroll deductions Aug. 20. Brown will be free to keep his additional income, including royalty payments.
In other words, he’ll be back to Scarface wallpaper in no time.
Rapper Young Buck files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after IRS raid [The Tennessean]
The big winner in this morning’s auction of some primo seats at Texas Stadium went to Hank Wendorf of Dallas-based Ticketsource.com.
There was only one other registered bidder at the IRS auction and the total damage ended up being $311,000 which was in Wendorf’s range and he’s pretty flippin’ stoked, “These seat options are not available from the Cowboys. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to add to my inventory,” he told the Dallas Morning News and saying, “In my opinion, these are the best seats in the stadium.”
The package includes seasons tickets for this year plus options to buy the same seats – located behind the Cowboys bench near the 50 yard-line – for the next 30 years, hence, you’ll never get them.
Since the starting bid was around $180k, Wendorf wasn’t too concerned about too much competition showing up to today’s auction but at least he wasn’t smug about it, “If fans want to judge the seat quality for themselves, ‘they can buy tickets from me,’ he said with a laugh before heading off to sign lengthy legal documents.”
Prime Dallas Cowboys seats go to ticket broker for $241,000 in IRS auction [Dallas Morning News]
Earlier in the month you may recall the story of hip-hop artist Young Buck being on the wrong side of a IRS raid that involved some of those shiny shotguns.
At that time, we learned that the agents seized several items – recording equipment, jewelry, furniture, his platinum wall plaques – even Mr Buck’s PlayStation (he says it was his son’s but, come on).
We’re not too familiar with IRS protocols, so perhaps when someone’s house is raided, the standard operating procedure is to take literally everything. The furniture. The porno collection. Worthless movie posters that there are literally tens of thousands of copies of. It all goes.
Presumably, the agents could have sold the poster to a kid on the street for a few bucks so they could get coffee but it would still be only enough money for one or two coffees. Or maybe it was enough for one (one!) cover at the local strip joint for the post-raid celebration. Or maybe on of the guys/gals really, really, really wanted that poster. Who knows?
Motivation aside, it certainly serves as another fine example of IRS shrewdness when it comes to collection efforts.
$31,000 watch among items seized from Young Buck’s home [The Tennessean]
Actually they ask you a lot questions but as FINS tells us today, there are far more interesting qualifications to join Doug Shulman’s brigade than, say, one of the Big 4.
For example, if you’re the ripe old age of 38 and you’ve never served in law enforcement, you’re out. Sorry but this is the Criminal Investigation Division and we don’t need your old college intramural energies acting up on raid where someone might get killed.
That being said, just because you happen to be in the “prime” of your life, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. The Service does require that you be in “prime physical condition” and your slow, uncoordinated ass will be tested on it.
Here’s the lowdown:
If any of this is confusing (we know some of you haven’t exercised in you life) jump over the website where there are videos demonstrating the vertical jump, bench press, situps, The Illinois Agility Run, and simply running. Again, the Service appears to be under the impression that plenty of you only break a sweat when you eat, hence the videos. Feel free to apply but only after checking with your doctor.
Tomorrow morning at 9 am Dallas time, bring your biggest suitcase filled with consecutively numbered hundos so you can watch Romo disappoint the faithful for yet another season:
The Internal Revenue Service plans to auction the six-seat package Tuesday, with bidding starting at about $185,000.
It’s the first time in at least five years that a season ticket package for any professional sports team has been auctioned to settle a debt, said Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman in Dallas.
Sanford said the agency’s privacy rules prevented him from identifying the ticket holder. But a document relating to the auction shows the federal government is owed $4.5 million.
Technically, the IRS is auctioning off two contracts offering licenses, or “options,” for six seats. Included in the package are 2010 season tickets for the six seats and parking for the 10 home games.
The licenses grant the holder the right to buy season tickets for a given seat for 30 years. Licenses for those seats sell for $50,000 each, said Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels.
That would be $300,000 for the six licenses up for bid.
All of the seats are in section C110 between the 40 and 50 yard lines on the lower level, the first level up from the field. The auction includes parking for the 2010 season.
We should tell you that you’ll also have to pay an additional $70,000 “still due on the contracts and to cover transfer fees.”
The AICPA is following the ABA’s strategy of mass letter sending by urging its members to inundate the IRS with tearful pleas to reconsider the Service’s Tax Preparer Registration Proposal.
The issue is so serious that the Tax Vice President, Edward Karl, went on the Hill today to testify about the AICPA’s concerns, in what had to have been one raucous hearing:
The AICPA has serious concerns that the proposed IRS regulations are an overreach and would place immense burdens on CPA firms, particularly small- and medium-size firms. Further, the AICPA questions whether the IRS has adequately examined the costs that would be imposed on tax preparers and American taxpayers.
The IRS has proposed four broad new requirements for paid tax return preparers including: mandatory registration, application of enforceable ethical standards, competency testing and continuing education requirements. At [today’s] hearing, the IRS specifically requested comments about registration and the fees tax preparers will be charged for newly required personal taxpayer identification numbers, or PTINs.
While the AICPA has consistently supported the IRS’s efforts to increase tax compliance and elevate ethical conduct through the adoption of a registration process for paid tax return preparers, the AICPA does not believe other elements of the policy are fully justifiable or necessary, according to Karl.
The AICPA is urging all of its 360,000 members to contact the IRS about the proposed regulations to express opposition to elements of the plan.
Adrienne urges everyone to do the copy and paste thing ASAP and since there’s no mention of the IRS being anti-form letter, then we’d probably say that it’s safe to proceed with the letter with the AICPA’s language.
That being said, that’s a pretty boring approach and if you can muster the passion of either side of the fair value debate, we suggest you write from the heart.
Where’s a Liberian warlord when you actually need one?
NC owes the Treasury around $60k which is really NBD seeing how that’s probably what she spends on antique torture tools to use on her assistants. In a weekend.
Plus, her boyfriend is the so-called “Donald Trump of Moscow,” which could mean a lot of things but it for sure means that dude is rich.
IRS slaps tax lien on model Naomi Campbell [Tax Watchdog]
This guy/gal is going to get a big slap on the back from Doug Shulman:
An Internal Revenue Service criminal investigations special agent shot and wounded one person during an apparent robbery attempt in San Francisco’s Bayview District overnight, police and an IRS spokeswoman said.
Our hero was apparently on duty at the time which, apparently, isn’t strange:
[IRS Spokeswoman Arlette Lee] said agents are on call 24 hours.
“It is not unusual for IRS agents to be out at different times of the morning or evening,” Lee said.
Lee said IRS special agents carry firearms but could not immediately confirm that the agent involved in the shooting had fired a service weapon.
In other news, IRS Agents also eat but are impervious to coffee.
IRS agent shoots suspect during robbery attempt [Mercury News]
When Young Buck woke up yesterday morning, he probably wasn’t expecting IRS agents armed to the teeth barging in and taking everything in sight.
But according to TMZ, that’s exactly what happened.
According to Young’s rep, IRS agents rolled up to the platinum-selling rapper’s house in Nashville this morning to go on a repossession rampage over the alleged tax debt — seizing assets like recording equipment, jewelry, furniture, his platinum wall plaques … and even his kids’ PlayStation.
Allegedly YB owes $300k in back taxes which isn’t the largest sum but it’s sizable enough. When TMZ asked Mr Buck how he got himself into such a pickle he responded, “This IRS situation came about because I trusted accountants, lawyers, and managers to handle my business for me while I focused on making music. From now on, I am going to stay on top of my own business.”
Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the music doesn’t suffer like the business did. We can’t imagine such a huge blow to the culture.
Apparently there’s been a bit of unnecessary confusion out there about the deductibility of marijuana for medical purposes. The Wall St. Journal article that we linked to this morning discusses the problems employers are encountering wie.g. can’t use HSA funds; they don’t care if you’ve got a card, if you test positive you’re fired).
But the question of deducting the cost of your White Widow et al. that you legally purchase in states like California and Colorado has been making the rounds. After a little discussion, it’s pretty clear that the IRS is not going allow you deduct your pot for tax purposes simply because it’s still illegal at the Federal level. Doctor’s note be damned.
The confusion arose due to the following letter that was sent to New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who had sent a letter to the IRS inquiring about a constituent using a “herb” to treat migraine headaches:
Talk about a vague response from the IRS. Tax Girl explains:
As with many facets of how to treat medical marijuana for tax and other purposes, it appears that those in charge are merely tiptoeing around the question. In the letter, the term “marijuana” is never used explicitly – the term used is “herb”. While it’s my understanding that the specifics of the case involved medical marijuana used for the treatment of migraines, that isn’t specifically stated in the sanitized version of the letter. No use of “marijuana”, just the term “herb.” That could be St. Johns Wort or milk thistle as far as the IRS is concerned.
Fortunately TaxProf Paul Caron clears up for us in a couple of updates from his latest post on this issue:
Update #2: Rev. Rul. 97-9, 1997-1 CB 77, specifically precludes a medical expense deduction for medical marijuana:
An amount paid to obtain a controlled substance (such as marijuana) for medical purposes, in violation of federal law, is not a deductible expense for medical care under § 213. This holding applies even if the state law requires a prescription of a physician to obtain and use the controlled substance and the taxpayer obtains a prescription.
So the IRS in Info. 2010-0080 either was (1) signalling a retreat from its position in Rev. Rul. 97-9 by not mentioning the federal legality of the substance; (2) implicitly referring only to legal herbs (and hence not covering marijuana).
Update #3: I am told by an enterprising reporter that the herb in question in Info. 2010-0080 is Petadolex, so it appears that interpretation #2 above controls and the conclusion in Rev. Rul. 97-9 denying a medical expense deduction for medicial marijuana still obtains.
So there you have it. Regardless if you have glaucoma, cancer, HIV, chronic pain, high anxiety or any ailment that marijuana can effectively alleviate, don’t bother trying to include it on Schedule A. We’d ask the IRS to implore a little common sense here but legally, as long as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level that’s not going to happen. And from a more practical standpoint, we’re still talking about the IRS.
The TIGTA seems to think so. $400 billion worse.
$2.35 trillion down from $2.75 trillion. Keep in mind that one of the primary responsibilities of the Service is to…collect taxes!
Sure, you can blame the economy but everybody does that. From the sounds of it, you’ve got plenty of guns, so what the hell is the problem? Or here’s an idea, ask the people in the South to pitch in a little bit.
Maybe! CT owes the Treasury $11.5 million for back taxes, according to reports. This covers the 2001-2002, 2004-2006 tax years.
This sum nips on the heels of the $14 million that Nic Cage paid the Feds last year (and the $3.8 million he owes California for this year). In addition to the sum due to Shulman & Co., Tucker owed California $3.5 million last year, so, clearly, we’ve got ourselves a race here.
The difference is that NC has been working, which gives him a glimmer of hope of being in full compliance.
Welcome back, Joe.
Back in 1998 when some of you were just starting your careers, some of you were discovering alcohol and some of you still hadn’t hit puberty, Congress enacted the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98). In Section 3707 of this piece of legislative ingenuity, the IRS is prohibited from using the term “illegal tax protesters or any similar designations.”
Why no name calling? The TIGTA claims it “may stigmatize taxpayers and may cause employee bias in future contacts with these taxpayers.” Plus, it really hurst people’s feelings.
This latest edition of government-mandated IRS bashing especially seems like a stretch since this “problem” of calling a spade a spade isn’t that widespread:
We found that, out of approximately 80.6 million records and cases, there were 196 instances in which employees had labeled taxpayers as “Tax Protester,” “Constitutionally Challenged,” or other similar designations in case narratives on the following computer systems during the period of October 2008 through September 2009[.]
For starters, “Constitutionally Challenged” sounds like something you might apply to a Tea Party member. Secondly, you can do the math on the 196 instances out of 80-odd million but the concern on the part of the Inspector General might be overblown.
Luckily for us citizens, we can throw around any term we want with reckless abandon and there’s no repercussions. That being said, the TIGTA didn’t make any recommendations to the IRS on how to curb the usage of axtay rotestorpay and the IRS didn’t buy the Inspector’s story that the 196 instances were, in fact, violations. So, if you’ve come to the conclusion that this TIGTA report was the biggest waste of time and tax dollars in the history of the Treasury Department, you probably wouldn’t be far off.
Remember the IRS’ failed outreach to small nonprofits back in the spring? Yeah, the May 17th deadline threw a lot small NFPs for a loop and they up and missed the filing deadline completely.
IRS Commish Doug Shulman figured that, despite the unprecedented outreach, the whole snafu was his bad and that nonprofits shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about missing the deadline, the Service will still take your 990, tardiness notwithstanding.
But that can’t go on forever now, can it? Accordingly, the IRS set a new deadline today to file the 990s and it’s set for a much more memorable October 15th.
WASHINGTON — Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.
The IRS today posted on a special page of IRS.gov the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance. The organizations on the list have return due dates between May 17 and Oct. 15, 2010, but the IRS has no record that they filed the required returns for any of the past three years.
“We are doing everything we can to help organizations comply with the law and keep their valuable tax exemption,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “So if you do not have your filings up to date, now’s the time to take action and get back on track.”
It’s simple people. If your gross receipts are under $25,000, get yourself a 990-N (e-Postcard), fill it out and you’re done. If you have receipts up to $500k, you’ll have to fill out either Form 990 or 990-EZ which will probably take you all of 15 minutes.
Get it? No more blowing this off. OCTOBER 15TH is the drop dead date. After that, Shulman & Co. will be busting down the doors to inform you that you’re no longer tax exempt. And trust us, you don’t want to deal with that.
Phil Anschutz, like most multi-billionaires, didn’t get rich being a passive dude. Case in point, Mr Anschutz just lost a battle with the IRS over $143.8 million in capital gains taxes that the Service argues he and his company, Anschutz, Co. owed for for transactions related to Union Pacific and Anadarko Petroleum.
According to Forbes’ latest Billionaire list, Phil is worth $6 billion. Before you reach for your 10-key, we’ll just tell you – this little capital gain issue amounts to less than 2.5% of his net worth.
In a similar vein, these transactions occurred in 2000 and 2001 so this particular battle is entering it’s second decade if you consider the birth of the transaction that gave life to the IRS’ beef.
Yes, he’s appealing ruling. See you in another 10 years.
Presumably, because the IRS wouldn’t possibly think to question liens taken out against government employees:
Thanh Viet Jeremy Cao, 28, of Rancho Santa Margarita and Las Vegas, is accused of taking out 22 false liens ranging from $25 million to $300 million against employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as false liens against four federal judges, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
Young Mr Cao wasn’t just doing this out of spite. Oh my lord, no. He had a theory behind his request for $20 billion in refunds:
Cao, whose business was Phoenix Financial Management Group in Lake Forest, filed fraudulent forms with the IRS on behalf of six clients “that grossly overstate his customers income and withholding to get grossly inflated tax refund checks,” according to a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Cao used a theory called “redemption” or “commercial redemption” – which prosecutors called a “rejected tax defier theory.” This theory claims that the U.S. Treasury keeps millions in a secret treasury account for each taxpayer. The secret account can be used to pay a taxpayer’s debts and tax liabilities if a taxpayer sends the IRS and banks certain documents, the theory goes.
“Cao’s theory is complete fiction,” the complaint reads.
Jesus, man. Not even an original crackpot theory. Spend some of those 223 possible years working on developing something new.
Man accused of $20 billion tax fraud [OC Register]
California Man Indicted in Las Vegas for Filing False Liens Against Federal Employees & Filing False Tax Forms [DOJ]
Give It Up Tax Protesters, You’re Just Screwing Yourselves
There are plenty of businesses out there that simply don’t have a plan. They may have a sign in the window, products on their shelves and a room full of “keepers” but not much else.
Trieu Le and Baymone Thongtheposmphou, on the other hand, had a plan. When Le’s company moved to Costa Rica in 2005, he opted to turn his focus towards professional gambling.
Sure, there are plenty of people out there that claim to be professional gamblers that would probably be better described as “degenerates” but not Le and Thongtheposmphou. They would use the principles of Feng Shui to focus their wagering efforts on their “lucky days,” increasing their wagering, foregoing sleep and possibly unnecessary food or bathroom breaks in order to maximize their luckiness.
Things were going on swimmingly for the couple until, at some point in 2007, they realized they were 200k in debt, having “withdrawn money from their retirement funds and borrowed against various assets to finance their attempt to make a profit.” These two were obviously committed to their idea and their plan.
TL and BT filed their losses (not to the exceed their winnings, of course) on a Schedule C to be included on the 1040. Unfortch, the IRS wasn’t buying the notion of this “professional gambling” and called bullshit:
Respondent treated petitioner’s winnings as not being from a business (i.e., that petitioner was not in the business of gambling) and accordingly determined that his losses should have been reported on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, as an itemized deduction rather than a business deduction. The income tax deficiency respondent determined arose from the inclusion of the gambling winnings in income and the resulting increase of the limitations on miscellaneous itemized deductions claimed on Schedule A.
The tax court decided to boil this down to the facts. That being, these two people had a plan – to gamble based on Feng Shui principles. Was this a bad business plan? Certainly not the best but far from the worst. Was it harebrained? Maybe. But was the tax treatment correct? The tax court says yes!
We find that petitioner’s gambling activity was a trade or business that was pursued in good faith, with regularity, and for the production of income, and that it was not merely recreation or a hobby.
Respondent also argues that petitioners’ approach was not businesslike and that it was irrational. The standard, however, requires only that the profit objective be actual and honest. It would be difficult to find on the record before the Court that petitioner’s approach to making a profit was irrational. For example, if someone’s investment in a stock or a business were based on Feng Shui or some other cultural judgment, that would not per se be “irrational”. Petitioners used their best judgment and successfully tested their business approach. Ultimately, the fact that their approach was unsuccessful does not make it irrational.
So take heed degenerate gamblers with crackpot business plans! As long as you’re using your best judgment and have some semblance of an “business approach” you too can take on the IRS (these two were pro sese, no less). Good luck!
Slipped into the health care reform bill passed in March was a new tax reporting regulation likely to create a huge burden for businesses, something we wrote about recently. Now a government watchdog, the National Taxpayer Advocate, is questioning the rule’s potential unintended consequences for small companies.
Plus, it looks like the regulation won’t raise a heck of a lot of money anyway.
The rule would require anyone with business income to issue 1099 tax forms to all vendors from whom they bought more than $600 worth of goods and services that year.
In her report, Nina Olson, the Taxpayer Advocate, warned that the rule could prove to be an unacceptable added burden for small businesses, which would face a virtual cyclone of new paperwork to comply with the regulation. “The new reporting burden, particularly as it falls on small businesses, may turn out to be disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance,” she wrote. And the rule could also give an unfair advantage to large suppliers that have the resources to help customers track purchases.
What’s really going on here? The regulation, which would take effect in 2012, seems to be yet another attempt by federal and state government agencies to shore up revenues by cracking down on unpaid tax liabilities–and taking steps that intentionally or unintentionally impact small businesses in particular. For example, a bevy of agencies, plus Congress, are on a regulatory jihad against corporate misclassification of independent contractors. And there are reports that the IRS is especially eyeing small businesses in that crackdown.
Thing is, like that effort, the new 1099 tax reporting regulation isn’t likely to reap a whole lot of money. For example, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation recently estimated the rule would raise an underwhelming $2 billion annually in added revenue, according to CNNMoney.com.
Will the Taxpayer Advocate’s remarks have any effect? Even before Olson’s report, there were signs that the IRS had started to backtrack. For example, the IRS announced in May that the rule won’t include transactions made through credit and debit cards. As the tax agency addresses all the compliance complexities of the rule, it’s likely to make other changes, as well.
But with government agencies in desperate need of money, the reporting rule isn’t going to disappear completely.
The emphasis isn’t needed but we’ve provided it anyway:
Despite being the most popular website in America, consumers don’t like Facebook, according to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report, produced in partnership with ForeSee Results. Facebook scored 64 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale, which puts its satisfaction even lower than IRS e-filers. This puts Facebook in the bottom 5% of all measured private sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction.
It makes sense, really. If someone is filing their taxes electronically and something goes wrong, he/she is probably able to keep it together long enough to call up the IRS and tell him what the problem is. On the other hand, if Farmville starts acting up on Patrick Byrne (just as an example), we’re guessing the man loses his shit.
It’s probably NBD for LW, as he’s dealt with the Service in the past, paying a $977k lien back in August of ’08.
What is interesting is that this particular legal snag is on top of several other accomplishments that Wayne-o has stacked up while in prison.
Last month, he pleaded guilty to a laundry list of drug charges – possession of a narcotic drug for sale, misconduct involving weapons, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of dangerous drugs – related to a stop that occurred outside Yuma, AZ in 2008.
He [pleaded guilty] over a live video feed from Rikers, and will most likely get 36 months of probation in return (the official sentencing is scheduled for June 30). For those keeping track at home, the plea bargain follows sports blogging, life-saving, prison-rule flouting, and rapping as things Wayne has accomplished while in jail.
And now delinquent taxes. Very impressive.
Lil Wayne, big debt [Tax Watchdog]
Famously Hardworking Rapper Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges While Already in Prison [Vulture]
Our favorite corner of the Federal bureaucracy, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, has come out with a new report today that admits that the IRS current method of sending notices and letters is costing us – taxpayers – millions because so much of it is undeliverable. This happens for various reasons, including nearly 25% of instances where recipients may or may not have physically threatened their mail carrier.
Press release (our emphasis):
TIGTA Report: Current Practices Are Preventing a Reduction in the Volume of Undeliverable Mail
The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) current method of sending notices and letters is costing taxpayers millions of dollars because it results in a large amount of undeliverable mail, according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
The IRS sends out approximately 200 million notices and letters each year to individual and business taxpayers and their representatives at a cost of $141 million. In 2009, approximately 19.3 million of those mailings were returned to the IRS at an estimated cost of $57.9 million.
TIGTA assessed whether the IRS can reduce the volume of undeliverable mail. Its review of a random sample of 331 notices and letters returned to the IRS found that 37 percent were undeliverable because of invalid or nonexistent addresses; 35 percent had the wrong address; 24 percent were refused by the taxpayer or the taxpayer was not at home to receive the certified or registered mail; and four percent were returned for other reasons.
TIGTA recommended that the IRS allow taxpayers to submit a change of address over the telephone and improve its systems for identifying known bad addresses. TIGTA also recommended implementing a standardized procedure for processing undeliverable mail.
“The Internal Revenue Service needs to take advantage of the latest technologies and systems now available to cut down on undeliverable mail, thereby saving the taxpayers money,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
In response, the IRS agreed with all of TIGTA’s recommendations and has begun the process of planning to implement them.
So, in other words, the IRS is partly responsible for several instances of the following:
Attention “self-reliant nonconformists who don’t pay much heed to everyday rules and regulations”! The IRS is offering you help with your nonconformist ways this very Saturday!
If you’re not interested in conforming with, you know, the Internal Revenue Code, then the Service might be a little bit less accommodating. Sure, it’s a Saturday but this is the government offering you help for free. No physical harm intended.
The Internal Revenue Service announced the locations of Taxpayer Assistance Centers in seven Gulf Coast cities that will be open this Saturday, July 17 to provide help to taxpayers impacted by the BP oil spill.
The following locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central Time:
1110 Montlimar Drive, Mobile, Ala.
651-F West 14th St., Panama City, Fla.
7180 9th Ave. North, Pensacola, Fla.
2600 Citiplace Centre, Baton Rouge, La.
423 Lafayette St., Houma, La.
1555 Poydras Street, New Orleans, La.
11309 Old Highway 49, Gulfport, Miss.
Individuals who have questions about the tax treatment of BP claims payments or who are experiencing filing or payment hardships because of the oil spill will be able to work directly with IRS personnel at any of these locations on Saturday.
“These changes appear to be limiting the scope of whistleblowers and the type of recoveries that would be eligible for an award. The fewer people eligible for rewards, the fewer people coming forward with information that might check out as tax fraud.”
Maybe! But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
There was a fair amount schadenfreude aimed at the University of Southern California when the school was slapped with sanctions a couple weeks back and at Reggie Bush for his role in the whole sitch.
How Bush really feels about it seems to be a mystery since he’s been quoted saying, “[This] is the closest thing to death without dying” but also a less passionate response, “Whatever happens, happens.”
Borderline schizophrenia aside, Fox News reports that Reg might have to pay some back taxes on the estimated $300,000 in luxury gifts he allegedly received:
“If the entire $300,000 is determined to be taxable,” Los Angeles-based CPA Mark Greenberg said, “about 50 percent of that would go to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. And with penalties and interest, it could go up to 60 percent since it’s going back a few years.”
Greenberg estimates that Bush, now the star running back for the New Orleans Saints, “ultimately will wind up paying about $150,000,” but “it could be up to $200,000” if his financial team can’t get the penalties and interest waived.
We’re sure Bush would never have to give up his trophy a la the Juice since A) he didn’t kill anyone and B) his sponsors are still firmly in his corner, so the money shouldn’t be a problem. That being said, having the IRS snooping around your financial situation is about annoying as a Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon.
Oregon attorney Micaela Renee Dutson and her husband Tony Dutson were convicted of defrauding the U.S. Government of over $7 million but not before doing their damnedest to stave off the IRS and DOJ investigating them.
The Dutsons were a creative couple, selling “pure trust” packages to their clients who were told that their income would be tax free if it were placed in trust. They sold these products despite “several warning letters from the IRS, articles in the Oregonian newspaper warning the public against tax shelter scams, and a complstice Department on behalf of the IRS in an effort to stop them from selling their tax shelters.”
The IRS started auditing the Dutsons’ clients who, prior to engaging the dynamic tax duo, were seemingly compliant taxpayers. The IRS informed these clients that the “trusts” were actually illegal tax shelters and that they were being bamboozled.
This was, of course, unacceptable to the Mr and Mrs and they went on a serious offensive:
[T]he Dutsons began a campaign to obstruct the IRS’s audits and investigation, and to harass and intimidate the individual IRS employees who were auditing or investigating them. First, they created and presented dozens of fictitious financial instruments to the IRS purporting to pay off back taxes for themselves and a number of their clients.
Even though they knew the bogus instruments had no financial value and had never been accepted by a creditor, they continued to sell them to their clients with false promises they would pay off their tax liability. The Dutsons also advised clients to use them to pay off commercial debts, including mortgages and court-ordered obligations. Together, the Dutsons and their clients presented over $44 million worth of these bogus financial instruments over a four-and-a-half-year period.
To further obstruct the IRS, and harass and intimidate its employees, the Dutsons advised clients to file frivolous lawsuits against the IRS employees. The Dutsons charged their clients $3,500 each to prepare court documents and help their clients file them. They continued to advise clients to file these lawsuits — even after a federal court had dismissed the first of these suits as frivolous and without merit — without telling their clients about the dismissal.
After the Justice Department filed the complaint for a permanent injunction, and IRS special agents had notified the Dutsons in person that they were under criminal investigation, the Dutsons filed a $1 trillion lien in California against several IRS employees who had attempted to audit or investigate the Dutsons, as well as the DOJ attorneys who filed the complaint. A federal court later ruled that the lien was null, void and without legal basis, but one week later, the Dutsons prepared a $108 million lien for a client against John Snow, who was then Secretary of the Treasury.
The Dutson probably figured the jig was up and since $1 trillion is a nice round number the figured “why the hell not?!?” Back in the early ’00s a trillion was fantastical number (for the most part), not tossed willy-nilly like it is these days. The Dutsons could have filed the lien for $1 gabizillion and it would have made as much sense.
Oh and while they were at it, just file another one against the Secretary of the Treasury. If it was Tim Geithner, sure we can see that happening for a whole host of reasons but John Snow? Wasn’t he one of the most harmless cabinet members of the Bush Administration? If they would have filed the lien against Dick Cheney they could have garnered a little popular support at least.
[caption id="attachment_12661" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Does this get you hot?"][/caption]
In what amounts to either coordinated efforts by some lunatics or a giant coincidence, envelopes with white powder were sent to eight federal buildings including an IRS office in Bellevue, Washington yesterday. CNN reports that the building in Bellevue was evacuated after “an employee opened a letter and the white powder ‘poofed out.’ ”
Other envelopes were sent to FBI buildings in Seattle, Spokane, Salt Lake City, Pocatello and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as well as U.S. Attorney’s offices in Boise and Coeur d’Alene.
While this latest IRS powder package incident seems to have caused no harm, one has to wonder what the motivation is behind such spineless actions. Does someone out there a major beef with the IRS and have a Hazmat fetish? Has that been diagnosed yet?
Accenture has done big projects for the IRS in the past but that doesn’t mean they’re any less excited about this particular project:
“The RPR program is really a win-win-win situation in which the IRS will gain the ability to identify and regulate paid tax preparers, tax payers will have better information about tax preparers before selecting one, and tax return professionals will be able to differentiate themselves in this competitive market,” said Lisa M. Mascolo, managing director of Accenture’s U.S. Federal client service group.
If you assume that Accenture is going to make out all right on this deal, then it’s actually a win-win-win-win situation. That would be a quad-win for those of you scoring clichés at home.
Having digested Accenture’s POV on the sitch, we’ll remind you that there are plenty of losers in the IRS’ RPR, as Joe Kristan told us back in January:
When there are winners, there are losers. These include:
Small tax prep shops – A solo practitioner will have to manage the new bureaucracy alone, while his giant competitors will have full-time fixers. When a little guy’s competency exam gets lost by the IRS bureaucracy, he might lose a season’s worth of business; fixers and lobbyists will make sure nothing like that happens to the big boys. And of course the inevitable capture of the IRS bureaucracy by the big players will continue to squeeze the little guys.
Enrolled Agents – Now that the IRS will be creating a new lesser level of licensing, these professionals will have a harder time distinguishing their much higher standards to a confused public.
Consumers – The most obvious result will be an increase in prices, both to pay for the new compliance costs and because the rules will run smaller preparers out of the market. Supporters of the regulations will say that it will be worth it because the new standards will improve quality. That’s a pipe dream. A bozo test and a few hours of CPE won’t turn a quack into a brain surgeon.
Low income consumers will, of course, not have to pay for the fancy “licensed” preparers. There will still be plenty of folks with pirated copies of Turbotax preparing unsigned returns in their cars and apartments, and the higher prices of the licensed competitors will send them more business. Other consumers will either struggle through their own returns without benefit of CPE or drop out of the tax system entirely.
Obviously there has to be some losers. A win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win (an octo-win) situation would be ridiculous.
Alabama Congressional candidate Rick Barber arranged a sit-down with some Founding Fathers to do some venting in his most recent ad:
GW looks serious about this “armies” thing doesn’t he? Well, there’s a good reason for that as, David Weigel notes at WaPo or you can see at the U.S. Treasury website, Washington did some of his own army gathering when he squashed the Whiskey Rebellion that arose from the Whiskey Act of 1791.
So it’s more likely that #1 is warning young Barber, saying “Knock yourself out ‘Bama. You’re going to need all the help you can get.”
The IRS Goes Gun Shopping
We haven’t come across a single person that is happy about cutting a check to the United States Treasury. In fact, some people would like their CPAs to stick their beard trimmings in with checks and include a note that says, “Here’s my money. Shove it. Oh, and enjoy the scruff.”
You would think that – after washing their hands for 20 minutes – someone at IRS would rip open your letter to find your check and drop everything to make the deposit. “Thank God! Everybody! We’ve got the Johnson check! I’ve got to get to the bank ASAP to make sure we can cover our glorious new pens.”
But this is not the case. No, the IRS doesn’t have a sense of urgency that you might have when you get a check in the mail. The Service’s resident mother-in-law, the TIGTA let’s us know how about their latest disappointment:
TIGTA found that the IRS is generally scanning checks and accurately posting checks to taxpayer accounts. However only 13 percent of the 770,504 payments reviewed by TIGTA payments were deposited the next business day through the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. As a result, the IRS lost $695,115 in interest on the payments that were not promptly processed. TIGTA found that the IRS is generally scanning checks and accurately posting checks to taxpayer accounts. However only 13 percent of the 770,504 payments reviewed by TIGTA payments were deposited the next business day through the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. As a result, the IRS lost $695,115 in interest on the payments that were not promptly processed.
And that’s your interest, American Taxpayers, sayeth J. Russell George, “When payments are not promptly processed, taxpayers lose the benefit of the interest earned that is credited to the Department of the Treasury.”
The TIGTA obviously understands that it was painful for you to cut that check in the first place, so the quicker it gets cashed, the sooner you will be doing your part – earning interest for every man, woman and child in this great land.
Plus, the sooner the money is out of your account, the less likely you’ll be to continue stewing about the unfairness of it all, only to conclude that quitting your job to attend rallies or participating in virtual marches may be the only way to help you to feel better.
The IRS Needs to Process Paper Checks More Quickly, TIGTA Finds [TIGTA PR]
Full Report [TIGTA]
If you find yourself in a bit of tax trouble, the IRS is more than happy to work with you. They gave all those UBS tax evaders all the chances one could ask for. They are giving small nonprofits a break on submitting their 990s. Hell, they are opening regularly on Saturdays.
The best thing to do if you find yourself in a pinch is call them, explain the sitch and we’ll bet you dollars to vegan donuts that Doug Shulman and Co. will work it out with you.
Having said all that, it’s extremely unlikely that the Service will work with you if, say, you attempt to obtain a couple million in bogus refunds to pay off your gambling debts. You do this under the assumption that the U.S. Government will gladly take an IOU until you get around to scraping it together. Who hasn’t gotten a little careless during football season a time or two and needed to commit a federal crime to make things, amiright?
Federal authorities this week arrested a former Los Angeles County worker who allegedly used the personal information of more than 150 welfare applicants to file nearly $2 million in fraudulent claims for tax refunds.
Trang Van Dinh, a 62-year-old resident of Glendale, worked for the county for a decade and filed the returns in a desperate attempt to pay gambling debts, county auditors said.
His arrest comes months after Dinh was fired from his county job after acknowledging wrongdoing in an interview with county investigators, said Guy Zelenski, chief investigator for the county auditor-controller. County officials spoke to Dinh after IRS investigators notified them of their suspicions.
“He thought he could pay the IRS back and he would have no problems,” Zelenski said.
No problems, like facing 220 years in FPMITA prison problems?
Fired L.A. County worker arrested in tax fraud case [Los Angeles Times]
If you’re working security at any building that houses IRS employees, your tendency to be extra cautious is warranted. For example, if you’re X-Raying a suspicious package that just so happens to contain a curiously shaped object that may resemble an explosive device, you may just order the entire evacuation of the building.
Fortunately, it sounds like it was just a fancy-schmancy decorative egg. While it’s comforting that security forces at the Peachtree Summit Federal Building are a vigilant (maybe too vigilant) bunch, anyone brave enough to bring any sensual devices to work might make for some awkward convos.
The IRS’ nagging mother-in-law, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) has once again managed to come down on the Service for something else it doesn’t do well – conserve energy.
According to TIGTA’s report, the IRS is implementing environmental management systems at 11 facilities, which will increase operating efficiency, improve environmental performance and reduce environmental impacts.
TIGTA also identified several steps the IRS should take to improve energy efficiency in its data centers, including eliminating gaps between computer room floor tiles that allow hot and cold air to mix, spacing servers in rows to maximize the efficiency of air conditioning, and using occupancy sensors to control lights in computer rooms.
The IRS does not have policies and procedures for improving energy efficiency in its data centers or for implementing data-center energy-efficiency best practices, TIGTA found. This affects the IRS’s ability to minimize energy consumption and costs, resulting in the inefficient use of resources and taxpayer funds.
“It is imperative that the IRS become more energy efficient to save taxpayer dollars and reduce the nation’s consumption of oil, coal, and other natural resources,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The details of the improvements that are quite impressive – gaps in the floor tiles; spacing of servers, etc. Impressive in the sense that if your performance coach/manager was giving you those kinds of suggestions for performance improvement, you’d give them an eyeroll that would cause you to fall backwards in your chair.
Despite the endless stream of criticism, Chief Nag, J. Russell George managed to stop short of asking the IRS to help BP get all that oil out of the Gulf of Mexico.
TIGTA: IRS Can Improve Energy Efficiency at Data Centers [TIGTA PR]
Full Report [TIGTA]
Specifically, under a feature of California law that recognizes domestic partnerships gay couples must now combine their income and report half of it on each of their respective returns.
The ruling marks the first time that the IRS has recognized same-sex couples as equal to their heterosexual counterparts for tax purposes. Of the community-property states (i.e. all property and debt is owned equally by a couple) Nevada and Washington also recognize domestic partnerships, so couples there may also be affected.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released some information to help companies take advantage of a tax credit provided by the health reform law.
The IRS estimates that about 4 million businesses qualify, and is sending out notices to as many as possible advising them of the tax break. If you haven’t received anything but believe your company may qualify, here’s what you should know:
The credit is available to companies with fewer than 25 employees with average wages of $50,000 or less. The full credit goes to companies with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of $25,000 or less. It is not available to self-employed individuals.
The credit covers 35 percent of an employer’s contribution to employee health premiums, so long as that doesn’t exceed 35 percent of the average cost of a health plan in the small group market. For a tax-exempt organization, the credit is 25 percent. Once the health exchanges are set up, the credit increases to 50 percent for businesses and 35 percent for nonprofits. At that time, the credit will only be available to companies purchasing insurance through the exchange.
A company can use the credit to reduce income tax owed and can carry the credit forward 20 years or back one year after 2010. Nonprofits can use the credit against withholding and Medicare taxes owed on behalf of their employees.
A key caveat is that employers must pay for half of the premium. For most workers, especially low-wage employees, a company that does not pay for at least half the premium is offering insurance that is essentially unaffordable. Even 50 percent is most likely not enough to do low-wage workers much good, especially at small companies where health care premiums are more expensive.
The amount of the credit is based on the premiums an employer pays for, so the more generous the coverage, the greater the credit. While premiums paid for owners and their families cannot be counted, those paid for seasonal workers can be. And the IRS has defined “premiums” broadly: not only does it cover premiums for standard medical insurance but it also applies to dental, long-term care and vision insurance-though again, an employer must pay 50 percent of each premium to count it toward the credit.
Calculating the credit probably requires any small employer to consult an accountant to see if the benefits are worth the cost of providing insurance. The tax credit is in effect, allowing employers who are already thinking about health insurance for their employees to factor in the savings as they plan ahead.
As an observer, I think the key issue is whether the credit is enough to offset the rising cost of health insurance. Those costs have hit small employers the hardest. We’ll see if the tax credit makes a difference in reversing the trend among small employers of dropping health insurance for their employees altogether.
An Internal Revenue Service agent is charged with accepting a bribe from two business owners in exchange for lowering their taxes.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 40-year-old Roger Anthony Coombs met with the two owners on May 8 to discuss an IRS audit of their businesses. Prosecutors say Coombs offered to reduce the $60,000 the business owners owed in taxes to $11,000 if they would pay him $9,700.
Coombs was arrested Wednesday after the business owners reported the offer to law enforcement officers.
How does a $49k reduction in taxes equate to a $9,700 pay off? Were these business owners more interested in greasing him $9,700 for a $0 tax liability? Because if that was the case, this happened in Minnesota, not the South, where that sort of thing could go unnoticed.
Or maybe they got pissed after he turned down their offer to seal the deal with a Starbucks?
What the hell is gonna to take for a celebrity to get an honest money manager around these parts?
The SEC has frozen his assets alleging that Starr “made unauthorized transfers of money in client accounts that ultimately wound up in Starr’s personal accounts.” But it was for a good reason – the man needs roof over his head, according to the complaint “Starr and his companies transferred $7 million from the accounts of three clients between April 13 and April 16, 2010, without any authorization. The transferred funds were ultimately used to purchase a $7.6 million apartment on the Upper East Side in Manhattan on April 16.”
Former New York City Council President Andrew Stein was also named in the complaint, and “is charged with lying to the IRS and federal agents about his involvement with Wind River.” Wind River being a company that Starr allegedly syphoned money to, that Stein used for personal expenses. However we’re mostly shocked to learn that Stein briefly dated Ann Coulter – shudder.
Financial whiz busted for duping celebs clients Wesley Snipes, Martin Scorsese in $30M Ponzi scheme [NYDN]
Celebrity Investment Adviser Charged With Ponzi Scheme [Gawker]
SEC Files Emergency Charges Against New York-Based Financial Advisor for Defrauding Clients [SEC Press Release]
For those of you keeping score, the ballpark figure of “wealth” is “in the neighborhood of tens of million of dollars,” according to IRS Commish Doug Shulman’s best guess. So if this is you, the time is nigh. You peasants whose net worth falls into the seven figure range probably can rest easy but don’t get too comfortable, you’re still at risk.
And don’t think that this will be a friendly visit between you, your CPA and an IRS representative. No, this will likely be a financial strip search that will be topped off with a latex surgical glove moseying around your nether regions.
This will not be a kick-the-tires type of exam. Instead, think in terms of a major overhaul. Global High Wealth taxpayers and their representatives should expect to confront teams of revenue agents, partnership experts, and international examiners prepared to scrub not only the Forms 1040 and the attached schedules but also any and all related returns. In the background will be specialists in such areas as financial instruments; exempt organizations; retirement plans (whether individually maintained or employer sponsored) and insurance and annuity arrangements.
Granted this is just how Don Rocen, the article’s author (and former deputy chief counsel at the IRS) pictures it but…yeeesh. If you want to come out with your hands up, think they’ll go easy on you?
IRS ‘Wealth Squads’ On The Way [Forbes]
In a show of understanding for nonprofits who may have been completely unaware of the Form 990 requirement in place for the last three years, IRS commissioner Doug Shulman sent out a really sweet letter encouraging smaller NFPs to go ahead and file anyway even though the deadline has come and gone.
Now that the May 17 filing deadline has passed, it appears that many small tax-exempt organizations have not filed the required information return in time. These organizations are vital to communities across the United States, and I understand their concerns about possibly losing their tax-exempt status.
The IRS has conducted an unprecedented outreach effort in the tax-exempt sector on the 2006 law’s new filing requirements, but many of these smaller organizations are just now learning of the May 17 deadline. I want to reassure these small organizations that the IRS will do what it can to help them avoid losing their tax-exempt status.
The IRS will be providing additional guidance in the near future on how it will help these organizations maintain their important tax-exempt status — even if they missed the May 17 deadline. The guidance will offer relief to these small organizations and provide them with the opportunity to keep their critical tax-exempt status intact.
So I urge these organizations to go ahead and file — even though the May 17 deadline has passed.
The Service assures us that the 990 e-Postcard is simple and easy to fill out, no need to drag your CPA into this mess.
Though the IRS sent friendly reminders to 600,000 charities over the 3 years this new rule has been effect, up to 215,000 charities may have missed the May 17th deadline. Seriously, it isn’t too late. Someone get on that.
There were complaints that the IRS was swamped with last-minute 990 filers (go figure) rushing to meet last week’s deadline so we’re going to guess that when Shulman says it’s okay to send those forms in anyway, he kind of means it. And perhaps that will teach everyone to file on time next year.
A taste of the June 6th premiere of The IRS (+) Hitman:
And if you think that’s interesting, there’s more:
Is there a complete sentence in there somewhere? Try the next one.
You hear that? How can you live with yourselves IRS? Stealing money from this Jonas Brothers wannabe family that won’t be able to stand around the kitchen eating cheese whiz out of the jar with their hands! No mercy indeed. If you have an IRS injustice story, you better get in touch with this Hitman character.
If you feel like nothing in life is ever certain, know this – John Daly will always be a weight fluctuating, chain-smoking, boozehound. And every once in awhile, he’ll have some serious money trouble or just go completely broke.
This is usually followed up with a major win which is then followed up by a total blow-up at the next tournament that may or may not involve Big John ending up passed out pantless on the 18th green in the middle of the night.
The guy has managed to make $9 million throughout his career yet still owes the IRS over a $1 million in back taxes for ’07 and ’08, according to a lien filed with filed by the Service with Shelby County.
His house in Memphis is apparently for sale, for just a smidge under $700k. So if you’re in the market, help the guy out.
Judging by the pics, you’ll have to schlep in your own kegerator and you’ll likely have to replace the carpet due to the ubiquitous cigarette burns but it still looks like a pretty nice pad.
IRS grips, rips golfer John Daly [Tax Watchdog]
You know, you’d think with all the challenges the IRS faces – airplanes, llelo/baking powder scares, virtual Tea Partiers – one would think that when on a collection call, agents would apply a spoonful of sugar to help the financial rectal exam go down.
Sadly, we’re informed over at Tax Lawyer’s Blog that it’s typically much more devious than that:
Often, when a taxpayer speaks to a low-level IRS official about a tax issue the official tells him one or more of the following:
• You must pay the debt or you will be criminally prosecuted
• If you don’t pay the debt in full within so many days, your assets will be seized
• It’s a waste of money to hire an attorney
As noted Peter Pappas notes, these three points are, in a word, gobbledygook.
Despite how much you might not want to admit it, attorneys are always useful in legal situations, especially complex ones. You might be able to get out of a traffic ticket on your own but probably not a tax case. An expert is needed (whether it’s a lawyer, CPA or EA). Further, as the post notes, these collectors are not the tax sages that they might present themselves to be, “[T]hese IRS officials are wholly unqualified to give legal advice to taxpayers. They aren’t lawyers, CPAs, or IRS Enrolled Agents and in the great majority of cases lack a substantial background and education in the intricacies of federal tax law.”
And there is the small matter of the agent acting in the best interest of the Federal Government so the modern day Matthew isn’t exactly in the best position to be giving the taxpayer advice.
IRS Collection Officials Intentionally Mislead Taxpayers [Tax Lawyer’s Blog via Tax Update Blog]
A federal grand jury has indicted West Carrollton club owner and Brookville resident Stanley W. Combs III on the charges of one count of operating an illegal gambling business and four counts of making false statements on federal income tax returns…
…The indictment alleges Combs substantially under-reported the income he received as the owner and operator of Fraternal Order of Orioles, Nest 293 at 842 Watertower Lane in West Carrollton and a related entity at 10955 Lower Valley Pike in Medway, Ohio.
There’s no indication that an H&R Block employee advised this particular alleged tax dodger but better to be prepared.
Club owner indicted for illegal gambling, income tax fraud [Dayton Daily News]
Isn’t it just like the IRS to try and pull a fast one on El Duderino?
Sure, the man’s name is really Jeff Bridges and he wasn’t an awarded for an Oscar for a performance that will certainly transcend the life of cinema but that’s not the point.
The point is that the IRS thought they had another celebrity in their sights. They were going to lump Duder in with Nicolas Cage, Ving Rhames, Nas, etc. etc. etc. and enjoy a little celebrity embarassment.
Well! Turns out they were wrong. Dead wrong:
[Bridges’] Publicist Jean Sievers said the tax issue was resolved in February and resulted in Bridges paying “significantly less” than the amount listed on the lien.
“However, for some reason there was some delay in communication between the department that resolved the tax matter and the collection department,” Sievers said.
Because there was a delay, the lien was filed last month, she added. Yet as of this afternoon, the lien had not been released, according to the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds office.
“The IRS screwed it up,” Sievers said. “It’s so funny. The IRS screws it up and he ends up owing less than what was on the lien.”
IRS slaps lien on Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges [Tax Watchdog]
Douche of the Last Decade Joe Francis is having trouble finding a lawyer in North Florida. No, it’s not due to his all around doucheness. And no, it’s not due to his inability to pay his previous attorney, Rick Bateman (who is suing him) $500k. It’s because he claims that the IRS has slapped levies on his hard earned drunk topless girl fortune.
A judge is set to enter a default judgment against J Fran for in a case where four women are suing him for taping them while they were underage. Since Fran can’t find counsel, he had to personally write a motion to request Judge Richard Smoak for leniency.
This is interesting not only because we didn’t know Joe could write but also because we thought the IRS had given up on old Joe after it was reported that his $30 million+ lien was reportedly dropped:
“My efforts to obtain new counsel have been hampered by levies upon my companies’ financial accounts by the Internal Revenue Service,” Francis wrote. “Prospective counsel that have agreed to entertain engagement as counsel in the case require large retainers which could not be facilitated in the time permitted by this Court’s Order of March 12, 2010.”
Joe is confident he’ll bag some representation before the June 10 deadline, saying that barring “unforeseen developments” (i.e. douchiness) he’ll no longer be forced to write words.
Joe Francis blames IRS for attorney-finding troubles [Panama City News Herald]
In case you’re not up to speed on the federal bureaucracy org chart, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s expressed purpose is to tell the IRS what it is they suck at doing and what they can do to quit sucking at it.
The latest bad report card for the IRS is that of protecting the identity of taxpayers who call the Service for help. The epic fail is due to customer reps not being inquisitive enough when identifying callers and not their inability to use their inside voices. The TIGTA presents its displeasure with the phone “assistors” in its latest report:
From our statistical sample of 180 contact recordings, we determined that assistors did not properly follow procedures when authenticating 29 (16 percent) callers, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosures. Based on these results, the projected number of callers with increased risk of unauthorized disclosures is 44,067 for 1 week.
So, you figure 2.2 million unauthorized disclosures a year. Maybe that’s a legitimate concern but in the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad? If you consider the fact that 22.4 million people aren’t even getting help, that seems like a pretty good number. Regardless of our realistic standards, the TIGTA has more harping to do:
During our review of 48 (27 percent) of the 180 sampled calls, we were able to overhear other assistors discussing other callers’ Personally Identifiable Information. For 10 calls (6 percent), we were able to clearly hear parts of conversations with other callers. For 38 calls (21 percent), other assistors’ interactions with callers were overheard, but we could not clearly understand the conversations. This happened because assistors did not put callers on hold when they were researching the taxpayers’ accounts. Also, the physical layout of employee workstations at call centers allows other conversations to be easily overheard.
So in this particular case it sounds like the IRS has two choices 1) force everybody to become low talkers or 2) spring for a larger cube farm so people aren’t up in each other’s shit.
The real question her is, can we realistically expect an error rate of zero from the IRS? When did “good enough for government work” no longer apply?
Who would have guessed that the IRS was capable of pulling the old switcheroo on confessed tax dodgers?
Apparently not some “former high-ranking tax officials” who are all bent out of shape because the IRS decided to prosecute their clients even though they came out of offshore tax haven land with their hands up.
A letter dated March 30 and signed by 32 lawyers, many of them former high-ranking tax officials now in private practice, said the IRS actions “smack of trickery.” They said that because the taxpayers had turned themselves in, they shouldn’t be prosecuted. The letter said heavy-handed treatment of some account holders could cause taxpayer confessions to “grind to a halt.”
The letter acknowledged the government’s long-held right to reject confessors if it already has their names or has opened an audit. But it argued that subjecting these taxpayers to rare public prosecutions would look like a double-cross. The writers also warned that if the government went ahead with prosecutions, it would radically change the “risk assessment” they offer their clients and lead to fewer voluntary disclosures.
So you acknowledge the right of the Feds to say ixnay on confessions of known tax scofflaws, plus one of Dougie’s deputies is quoted saying this: “The Service has been clear and consistent. We said that people already known to us were not good candidates,” and then you write a letter? The IRS has been attacked from the air, had suspicious packages dropped on their doorsteps and been blamed for suicides and you think a stern letter is going to sway them?
Last month we mentioned a study that was done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (“TRAC”) of Syracuse University that was critical of the IRS’ trend of auditing fewer large corporations and focusing smaller business. A major concern for not only small business owners and managers but also taxpayers since they pay for the audits that are occurring.
We recently spoke to Dr. Susan Long, co-director of TRAC and AssociaSyracuse’s Whitman School of Management about the study.
Going Concern: What’s the biggest takeaway from the findings on the report?
Dr. Susan Long: The report really does two things: 1) Presents a tool [link to tool] that users can use to look up all sorts of statistics about IRS audits for any size corporation. From very small to very large, you can look at trends over a long time so that you can see how things have changed.
2) The focus of our report was to look at the continuing large drop in corporate audits even though this is a time of rising deficits. The IRS has been given more budget for agent staffing but they have not chosen to focus on the largest corporations even though that’s where, historically, the IRS gets the biggest bang for the buck.
GC: One section of the report discusses the politics of tax collection and deficits. Is the IRS and Treasury taking the wrong approach into obtaining more revenue for the Federal Government?
SL: Our role was not to judge them but to lay out what they do and look for some kind of rationale. We could not find any rationale apart from some kind of a perverse quota system. It certainly does not appear to be at all consistent with focusing where tax dollars are underreported based on their own statistics.
GC: Do you have suggestions or opinions about what the IRS can do better? Is there a way that the Service can improve the quota system or do they need to reassess their strategy altogether?
SL: The role of TRAC is not the typical policy research organization. Our role, as we see it, is to present a picture of what the government, in this case what the IRS, is doing with respect to tax audits and to leave it up to the reader to decide what makes sense.
What we did find is that IRS sets performance goals, as all agencies do, and it sets group targets, not individual targets for agents. But nonetheless they are based on how many total audits of corporations take place for the large and mid-sized industry group (“LMSB”) and then separately for the small and self-employed business unit (“SBSE”). We noticed that there was a peculiar reversal in audit rates when you got to the margin of those companies at say, with the bigger companies for SBSE audits versus what would then be larger companies but represent the small guy for the LMSB auditors. It just showed quite clearly that there was a tendency for each branch to shy away from its biggest audits and put increased efforts on its smaller guys within its unit in a very perverse fashion.
GC: Since you used the IRS’ own data to compile your study does it appear that the statistics could be the result of the flawed goals or quota system?
SL: Right. We’re all human and we respond to what we’re measured on. If those measurements are not in accord with what the priorities are [i.e. where the largest underreporting occurs], you’ll work to the measure rather than to the overall priority. This is not the first report where we’ve noticed this. In this case, what was interesting was that for a long period of time, Congress had been cutting the IRS’ budget and it’s really tough when you have more and more returns and fewer and fewer agents to cover them. You’ve really got hard choices there.
So we were very interested to see, now that we’ve entered a new era, Congress has been giving the IRS more budget for hiring more revenue agents. Therefore they have more discretion about where they will put these additional resources and they are certainly not putting them in the large corporate area.
GC: What about the IRS’ contentions that they audit 100% of companies of $20 billion in assets or more?
SL: According to their figures, the IRS audits more than 100% of all the corporations of that size. These particular figures we took from the IRS databook that is put out annually. There has only been three years where there has been a breakout with these categories.
The first time it came out the IRS said, “yes it’s over 100% but that’s because you can audit more than one year’s return in the same year” and that’s true. But then in the second year it’s over 100% and they make the same excuse. Now this is third year and it’s still over 100% [see footnote at the bottom of the study].
They’re not doing a very good job of accurately measuring that [the number of companies audited] so we presented figures that give the IRS the benefit of the doubt. They’re not measuring the size of the returns vs. the size of the audits in a consistent way, so we just grouped it with the next largest category and saw exactly the same trends in terms of the hours spent auditing the biggest companies.
Simply, there’s a tendency to spend less time on less complicated returns. As companies get bigger their businesses get more complex. When you see that sort of thing in an organization, you look at what are the goals being measured against. If they’re being measured just on quantity and there isn’t any distinguishing between that workload that takes longer to do, it’s easier to up your numbers by choosing workload that you can churn out faster. It’s human nature.
The April 15th deadline has come and gone but that does not mean the IRS’ work is done. In fact, getting money in the Treasury Department’s door is a 24/7/365 sorta deal and in case you didn’t notice, there’s a bit of a deficit problem.
Accordingly, the IRS has decided to host open houses at 200 facilities in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico on May 15th from 9 am to 2 pm local time (locations here). IRS staff will be there to help individuals and small businesses sort out any issues they may have (See? Filing that extension was a good idea).
This marks the second time in 2010 that the IRS has opened its arms to public on the Sabbath, having done so on March 27th. According to the Service, that particular National Day of IRS Friendliness was a resounding success, with 88% of taxpayers getting their issues resolved that day.
Doug Shulman all but assures your satisfcation in the press release, “Our goal is to resolve issues on the spot so small businesses and individuals can put any issues they have with the IRS behind them. If you have a problem filing or paying your taxes or resolving a tough tax issue, we encourage you to come in and work with us.”
Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a 100% money-back guarantee but the Service is going to work their cans off to get you in compliance and cutting a check that day. Unless of course you’re a Tea Party type trying to get on the six o’clock news, in which case you’ll be dealt with in a swift and decisive manner.
With tax season over, scam season has begun and the IRS wants to be sure that you know they will never send you unsolicited e-mails or request identifying information about you a la PayPal scams. Because, you know, they’re helpful like that. Since many of you are waiting patiently by your mailbox (or bank statement if you E-filed for direct deposit) for your refund checks, it’s all that much more important to be on the lookout for these kinds of tricks hitting your inbox.
Protect yourself, little taxpayer, and know that the IRS is here to help make sure you don’t get scammed by unscrupulous impersonators:
The IRS does not send taxpayers unsolicited e-mails about their tax accounts, tax situations or personal tax issues. If you receive such an e-mail, most likely it’s a scam.
IRS impersonation schemes flourish during filing season. These schemes may take place via phone, fax, Internet sites, social networking sites and particularly e-mail.
Many impersonations are identity theft scams that try to trick victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts. Some e-mail scams contain attachments or links that, when clicked, download malicous code (virus) that infects your computer or direct you to a bogus form or site posing as a genuine IRS form or Web site.
Some impersonations may be commercial Internet sites that consumers unknowingly visit, thinking they’re accessing the genuine IRS Web site, IRS.gov. However, such sites have no connection to the IRS.
IRS Spokesperson Jennifer Henrie-Brown gave us a few tips for avoiding scams and reporting sketchy e-mails to the Service to combat the spamming problem: “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and does not request detailed personal or financial information through email. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, you should not reply. Do not open any attachments or click on any links. Doing so may download malware that can damage your computer or allow remote access to your hard drive,” she told us.
What do you do if you get one of these weird, misspelled, bad-grammar-infested fake e-mails claiming to be from the IRS? “If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, or Web addresses that do not begin with http://www.irs.gov, you can relay that email to IRS mailbox [email protected]. IRS can use the information URLs and links in the suspcious emails you sent to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites.”
Suggested reading: Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS [IRS]
Dick Jenkins is a bad, bad tax accountant; the Justice Department says so.
“Given the sheer brazenness of Jenkins’s conduct, he is essentially stealing … from the U.S. Treasury,” said U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball, who entered the civil injuction against him last week. Jenkins was accused of filing $393 million in fraudulent tax refunds, including a single $210 million dollar refund for one customer and $402,920 for himself that he didn’t have coming (I don’t care how good you think you are at deductions, that’s BS).
Jenkins was not barred by the court from doing taxes forever because he screwed his clients (they received $294,292 in fake refunds) but because “Jenkins’s conduct results in irreparable harm to the United States.” You heard right, the Salt Lake Federal Court is pissed because he tried to remove $393 million from the Treasury through tax fraud, who cares about the clients?
Maybe this is what the PCAOB was talking about when they mentioned unusual transactions without giving specifics. I’d say it qualifies.
Go figure, Christina Ricci has been hit with an IRS lien to the tune of $179,568.30 for unpaid 2008 taxes. Though the lien news seems to have taken her quite by surprise, Ricci’s rep told TMZ that she is taking “immediate action to address it in a responsible manner.”
That’s funny, I thought a responsible manner would have meant paying the IRS $179,568.30 before April 15th, 2009 when it was due but maybe that’s just me.
Oddly enough, if you’ve ever been hit with an IRS lien (hello, Nic Cage) you know that the Service doesn’t just one day decide to slap a lien on you without first attempting to give you a hint that the proverbial shit is preparing to hit the fan. Generally this comes in the form of correspondence (lots of it) indicating that there is an issue.
Helpful bunch that they are, the IRS will almost always work with tax delinquents as long as said delinquents return their letters and get in touch to say “Hey, sorry, totally forgot to give you that $180,000 that I owe you.” In the case of Christina Ricci, we’re pretty sure her IRS letters must have gotten lost in the fan mail and creepy stalker packages. Yeah, that must it.
“Who would have thought that the IRS would have a favorability rating a third higher than the tea party movement’s? Or that the IRS would be twice as popular as Palin?”
If you are some kind of tax activist, not a felon and ready to serve your country, we may have the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime for you: Serving on the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP). The deadline for applications is this Friday and we’re pretty sure the Service has been swamped with would-be heroes vying for a chance to provide a voice to the poor, abused little taxpayer.
“TAP members represent the typical taxpayer and provide the IRS with invaluable insights that are crucial to sound tax administration,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.
To qualify, you must pass an FBI fingerprint check (sorry, Lone Wolves, you’re pretty much disqualified right off the bat and will have to stick to crashing planes into IRS buildings if you want your voice to be heard), not be a lobbyist, and of course be caught up on your own tax bills.
Think of it like a focus group for taxes except unlike traditional focus groups, you won’t be getting $75 for an hour’s worth of opinions. TAP members serve a 3 year term and are expected to commit 300 – 500 hours per year serving the
Service taxpayer. Members are required to attend a yearly meeting in Washington, DC each fall, at least one face-to-face subcommittee meeting with other members in their region and must participate in a monthly conference call.
So go on, little taxpayers, give the IRS a piece of your mind. And 500 hours of your time, of course.
You could make the assumption that since Sherry Lynn Vertoch was merely posing as an IRS agent that the hoteliers didn’t have any cause to take any violent action. Had she actually been an IRS agent we probably could have expected some sort of shooting, bombing, plane-crashing or torture performed for the sake of American tradition.
A woman who racked up two years of unpaid lodging in Novato while posing as a federal tax agent was granted probation by a federal judge Tuesday and ordered to pay $55,000 to the hotel owners.Sherry Lynn Vertoch pleaded guilty in February to impersonating a federal officer. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco accepted a recommendation by federal prosecutors and Vertoch’s lawyer to place her on supervised probation for five years rather than sending her to prison.
Fake IRS agent told to pay $55,000 hotel bill [SF Chronicle]
Earlier in the week we mentioned an Indiana man who was suing the Feds for wrongful death because his wife committed suicide after an IRS raid.
Well, it turns out that the raid wasn’t a training exercise.
A Huntertown man who federal authorities say earned more than $1.7 million in assets but did not report the earnings on income tax filings has been charged in a 23-count indictment by a federal grand jury seated in South Bend.
James A. Simon, 59, faces charges of filing false federal income tax returns, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, fraud involving private financial aid, and fraud involving federal financial aid, all for an alleged scheme that ran 2003-2006.
Through involvement with five separate businesses – foreign and domestic – Simon is alleged to have not reported funds obtained as earned income, but instead claimed monies as nontaxable loans and advances.
Simon spent all but about $50,000, the indictment alleges.
The wife might be better off.
IRS strikes back in 23-count indictment for Huntertown man [Fort Wayne News-Sentinel]
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more exciting in the world of overeating, Dairy Queen has announced that it will be handing out free ice cream in front of the IRS Building in DC tomorrow at 10th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
According to the Washington Business Journal, the Blizzardmobile will be parked outside and mini blizzards will handed out to “taxpayers and accountants” (why didn’t they just say “everyone”?).
This momentous occasion not only marks the end of the traditional return filing season but it is also marking the Blizzard’s 25th birthday. This might, just might, cajole some Tea Partiers to leave their homes as opposed to marching on the Internet (especially since there doesn’t appear to be a limit per taxpayer/accountant).
However! The window of opportunity is short and you’ll only have from noon to 1 pm to get your miniature cup of refined sugary goodness. One might think that since Doug Shulman might be anti-pizza that he also might have something against blended ice cream confections. But on the other hand, Warren Buffet didn’t get filthy rich by giving away crackalicious deserts for free now, did he?
Free ice cream outside IRS building [Washington Business Journal]
The widower of a woman who committed suicide three days after ten armed IRS agents raided their home in 2007 is suing the U.S. Government.
Federal court papers say Fort Wayne resident Denise Simon left behind a note stating she could not “live in terror of being accused of things I did not do.”
The lawsuit filed by James Simon in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne says Denise Simon and her 10-year-old daughter were the only ones home when about 10 armed IRS agents raided their residence on Nov. 6, 2007.
The suit also alleges IRS agents made misleading statements to obtain a search warrant.
Pre-tay sure this is the last thing the Service needs to be associated with.
The IRS didn’t immediately return our call seeking comment. An IRS spokeswoman got back to us but due to federal disclosures laws, the IRS not permitted to discuss a specific taxpayer case.
Last summer we told you about an IRS agent who threw a temper tantrum after threatening to kill Treasury Agents they showed up to search his home.
Just briefly refresh, after the agents stopped Albert Bront from going back into his house, where he kept three loaded guns (no doubt they were Remingtons), he was shoved into the back of the car where “he kicked the front seat of the law enforcement vehicle and pounded the door with his elbow.”
Besides the small matter of telling Federal Agents that ‘I’m Going to Kill All of You!’ Bront has also been indicted for filing false returns and helping others file false tax returns. Web CPA reports that he is convicted on all 16 counts in the indictment he faces 55 years in adult prison.
While we are firmly against the violence, we fully support seat kicking, foot stomping, pouting and all around conniption fits for those that feel wronged by the IRS. At the very least, it’s more effective than marching on the Internet.
This morning we shared some best practices on how to keep your ass out of hot water should an IRS audit befall you. The concern is that the government spending is out of control, huge deficits yada yada yada, the IRS will be knocking on more doors.
Well, now it appears that the last entity type standing, the sole proprietorship will join the rest as an IRS target. IRS-criticizer-in-chief J. Russell George’s TIGTA issued another report but this time it cites sole proprietorships for “$68 billion of the $345 billion tax gap in 2001,” in underreported income. Web CPA reports George’s thoughts:
“Sole proprietors who underreport their income can create an unfair burden on honest taxpayers and diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “It is imperative that the IRS institutes policies to address this problem.”
How’s this for addressing a problem? The Internal Revenue Code, you my have heard, is mind-numbingly complex. Sole proprietorships, out of all the entity structures, are the least equipped to ensure compliance with the tax law. Auditing more of them will not result in increased compliance but rather enormous costs to their businesses. As for “diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” didn’t that ship sail ages ago?
In case you’re illiterate or generally ignorant about the reputation of our government, you know that there’s a ginormous deficit that our Congressional representatives like to crow about ad nauseam. And because squawking will only get you so many votes, many in Congress have decided that tasking the IRS (and thus setting up an easy scapegoat) with scraping together more revenues.
Accordingly, the IRS is not only hassling people for their milk money but they are also ramping up the number of audits of wealthy individuals.
The Journal warns us about this increasing number of financial DREs, noting that many rubes get the notice in the mail, freak the hell out and cut a check to the Treasury. However, if you’ve got a solid case against the Service or balls of concrete, than there are some tips that you would be wise to heed:
“Hire the wrong tax preparer” – If your tax pro had the unfortunate luck to get swept up in Operation Brass Tax, then you’re obviously in bad shape. If you’ve got the means, don’t cheap out on the Mom & Pop (sorry Moms and Pops out there) tax prep shop and find a qualified CPA, attorney or enrolled agent to guide you through this nightmare.
“The Ostrich approach” – The strategy of simply ignoring the IRS will work about as well as bulldozing your house.
“Automatic Surrender” – You may be surprised to learn that the IRS is not the omnipotent federal agency that it may implicitly claim to be in its letter. Long story short, don’t just take them at their word, unless you’re the type that wants to pay more taxes.
Of course there are several other strategies that the Journal omits that you should want to avoid, including:
Violent Retaliation – No one wins here.
Claiming to be a celebrity – Fame has yet to prove an effective deterrent to IRS nagging.
Cry about it – The IRS, while sympathetic, will not be swayed by tears.
While everything listed above is tempting, we advise getting professional help and it probably won’t hurt to keep the proceedings cordial.
How to Fight the IRS [WSJ]
With less than a week until April 15th, it’s safe to assume that some people are finally getting a tad anxious about the upcoming deadline. If you live in New York and happen to be one of these procrastinators, it may be wise to check with your tax professional, not only because they hate it when you show up on the 13th – 15th with nary a clue about what you earned in 2009 but also because if you’re really unlucky, your tax pro instead was just total shiester and got caught up in “Operation Brass Tax.”
First off, we’ll just say that we’re not sure who at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York or the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division was given the modest charge of naming this particular operation but it obviously sucks. We’re not expecting you have an imagination like JK Rowling or anything but guys, c’mon.
But enough with trivial matters, the main concern is that there are many New Yorkers that are completely going batshit crazy because A) they recently found out that their tax preparer was a robbing them blind and B) they have no idea how they are going to get their tax return filed in less than a week without help because reading the instructions is NOT. AN. OPTION.
Twenty-six phony tax experts in Manhattan and the Bronx have been charged by the SDNY/IRS for pulling a smorgasbord of scams including, “stolen identities of children to falsely claim them as dependents on clients’ returns; claiming “business losses” from fictitious businesses; using stolen identities, including Social Security numbers, of deceased individuals to list as the ‘taxpayers’ on fraudulent returns, and taking the resulting refunds themselves.”
All this chicanery has U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara upset because these tax professionals are supposed to be the good guys!
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Patricia Haynes unsealed charges Thursday against the tax preparers. Sixteen were in custody, four had been previously charged and face new charges, and six remain at large. “Professional tax preparers are supposed to be gatekeepers, not facilitators of fraud,” said Bharara in a statement.
Some might argue that this is just another reason why regulating tax preparers is the best idea the IRS has ever had. Of course then you remember that these regulations will probably drive these tax prep lemonade stands underground anyway.
While that’s another matter entirely, there’s no cause for concern. There’s plenty of tax gurus in New York like the guy who got mixed reviews on Craigslist. If venturing to Queens isn’t a solution then you can always, you know, file the extension.
26 NYC Tax Preparers Charged with Tax Fraud [Web CPA]
More New York Tax Trouble:
Investigation Reveals that 30% of Tax Preparers in NYC Lied About Rapid Refunds
While we’re typically not ones to speculate on the difficulty of any particular job (e.g. CEO of a Big 4 firm) the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) probably has the easiest job on Earth.
As far as we can tell, the TIGTA is responsible for criticizing the IRS on, well, pretty much everything that the Service does wrong and then the IRS agrees that they suck and promises to do better.
And if you’re going by the TIGTA website we’re more or less correct:
“TIGTA promotes the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the internal revenue laws. It is also committed to the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse within the IRS and related entities.”
We’re assuming that Doug Shulman probably agree with our assessment but that guy doesn’t even like pizza, so who cares what he thinks?
Anyhoo, the latest Monday Morning QBing from the TIGTA is that some of the Service’s senior revenue officers are basically sitting around with nothing to do. Web CPA reports:
Senior revenue officers at the Internal Revenue Service who are supposed to handle more complicated tax cases oftentimes don’t receive any work assignments, according to a new government report…
The relative lack of work for the senior revenue officers to do occurred because there is no systemic means for IRS managers to identify the most complex cases, and the criteria for identifying complex cases are subjective and inconsistently interpreted.
So you’re a senior revenue officer with 5-6 years (?) on the job. You’ve got this gig pretty much figured out. Not only do you know the ropes, you make the fucking ropes. Your manager has suits from DC so far up their ass about collecting every dime available that they can’t see straight, so they just want you busy do anything.
You, being a reasonably lazy (and realistic) person, aren’t going to kill yourself. If you’ve got the choice of picking up a 1040 that’s hundreds of pages long versus a 1040EZ that has fewer pages that a Tony Alamo pamphlet, you’re going to pick up the 1040EZ.
Well now J. Russell George is slapping those managers around with a report deeming this unacceptable which may mean that your slacking days are over:
“I am troubled that IRS managers are not providing employees with work assignments that they are ready and able to do at a time when it is incumbent on the IRS to be as efficient and effective as possible,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement.
JRG is recommending that the IRS improve it’s methods of identifying more complex cases (that the IRS naturally agreed with). We think a tax return thickness analysis is a decent place to start.
Among the celebrity/athlete tax delinquents we get a decent variety – hip–hop artists, topless girl magnates/douches of the decade, juiced-up baseball players, washed-up actors, people stupid enough to have their picture taken in a Nazi visor and doing the “sieg heil.” It’s a potpourri.
Well, today we’re happy (not literally happy, tax delinquency is not a laughing matter) to report that tax troubles have now found their way into new area of the celebrity culture: race car drivers. And not just any race car driver, one that is rumored to have used meth! Lots of it!
We’re not too familiar with Jeremy Mayfield’s problems but after a quick glance at one article we’ve learned that A) he’s not crazy about NASCAR leadership B) dude has done a fair amount of crank in his day C) he’s not a fan of his “whore” stepmom who, he says, killed his Dad.
Between the work trouble, drug trouble and family trouble J May’s brain has to be mush; of course he’s going to forget to pay $300,000 in taxes. This is no different than the Snoop Dogg tax situation. Sure the drugs are different but the principle is the same. The guy just needs a solid CPA to take care of these things for him, preferably one that isn’t easily sketched out and can handle paranoid junkie types with money to throw around (assuming there’s money left).
Are you dreading April 15th North Jersey? Thought so. With just over a week to go until deadline, it may have crossed your minds that you should start tearing your house apart for that W-2.
Well, you can postpone the treasure hunt for now because the IRS is showing mercy on you for the Biblical rainfall that poured on the Garden State last month.
The IRS announced on Monday that they are delaying the filing deadline “for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. This includes the April 15 deadline for filing 2009 individual income tax returns, making income tax payments and making 2009 contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).”
The counties declared a disaster area by the POTUS include Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Union and thus qualify for the extended deadline, which is now May 11th.
New Jersey makes the third state allowed a prolonged procrastination period, joining counties in Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island.
Don’t try to get cute though, Garden Staters, if you’re thinking you can falsely claim residency in one of the affected counties, the IRS will be all over your shit, “IRS computer systems automatically identify taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and apply automatic filing and payment relief.” So appreciate the compassion if you can get it but don’t get any ideas; the IRS is still watching.
Considering the tone of Joe Stack’s manifesto, you’d think common courtesy would have been abandoned ages ago. Not necessarily so:
Perhaps it was a more sinister “have a great day” than we’re imagining, although the jig would have been up if he had given any indication about his plans (e.g. read the manifesto to air traffic control).
This is disappointing on a multitude of levels. On the one hand, the notion of thousands of IRS agents running around the country, kicking doors is kind of exciting.
On the other, if crazed tax-haters can’t threaten the lives of IRS Agents who can they threaten? The census only occurs once every ten years and threatening to gun down OSHA employees just doesn’t seem to be as effective.
Doug Shulman spoke at the National Press Club yesterday and assured everyone (despite what Dave Camp or Ron Paul says) that agents will not be storming your house packing heat if you don’t purchase insurance. The IRS will be counting on insurance companies to help them run identify those who are skipping on the required coverage.
He said insurers eventually will be required to file a document similar to Form 1099 used by financial institutions to report investment income. The agency will send letters to the uninsured notifying them fines could be deducted from their tax refunds for refusing to comply with the new law, Shulman said.
“These are not the kinds of things we send agents out about,” Shulman said. “These are things where you get a letter from us.”
We imagine the letter won’t be particularly friendly but it’s a far cry from jack-booted thugs pointing firearms at your head.
Shulman Says IRS Has Few ‘Punitive’ Ways to Enforce Health Law [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Maybe! Our imagination tends to run wild so if you’ve got reason to believe that hush money paid to Tiger’s mistresses is of no interest to the IRS, please advise.
TMZ is reporting, based on “sources — and they are good” that Tigger paid Rachel Uchitel $10 million to keep her mouth shut regarding their affair.
Or maybe we’re not giving either of them enough credit. Maybe Rachel has a tremendous business acumen that we’re not aware of and she requested a 1099 from T. Dubs.
Plus, Tiger employs more people than Alaska, so someone on his team may have been looking out for this girl. TW, on the other hand, there’s NFW he considered the problems this could possibly create. Considering the fact that he has trouble communicating, we’re guessing the financial ramifications for his F-buddies slipped his mind.
There’s a slew of “reasons” that people have for hating on the Internal Revenue Service. They’re responsible for discourse on television, they don’t observe Shabbos, perverts (alleged!), etc.But every now and again the IRS gives you a reason to say, “well, that’s nice of them,” even if it takes rainfall that makes you consider cobbling an ark together and rounding up the animals in the neighborhood.
The Service is not unreasonable. Apologetic? Never. But not unreasonable. Accordingly, if you live in eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island the IRS took notice of the rising waters and is extending the April 15th deadline to May 11th (?).
It’s unlikely that this will garner much favor with the IRS haters outside of the Northeast but at least the Service won’t have to ignore the flood of calls from Bay State and Ocean State residents about whether they’ll still be expected file on time. Grab a bucket.
IRS will delay April 15 deadline for many in Mass. [Boston Globe]
Flood weary Rhode Islanders get tax extension [AP via Globe]
*For the militant atheists – Calm down, wouldja? It’s a religious week. Just sub “Nature” and move on.
This is the last thing the IRS needs. Well, maybe next-to-last.
“An IRS employee is charged with having child pornography on a laptop computer that police said he left in a garbage bag in a wooded area in Sterling Heights. Alan E. Erickson, 45, of Sterling Heights is charged with one count of using a computer to commit a crime and five counts of possession of child sexually abusive material, officials said.”
Dumping a laptop in the woods? And child porn to boot? Jesus. You thought the death threats against IRS agents were bad before…
IRS employee charged in porn case [Detroit Free Press]
Image source: Sterling Heights Police via DFP
If you’re a member of the AICPA the biggest benefit you enjoy is not the prestige, not the certificate that you have mounted on your wall but the Journal of Accountancy that shows up in your mail every month. It’s really solid that your firm shells out good money on an annual basis so you can add new Excel tips to your spreadsheet wizard repertoire.
JofA manages to talk to a number of high profile as well, which you would expect from a behemoth professional journal. Case in point, when we received the latest month’s issue we couldn’t help but get a little giddy seeing Doug “Help me, help you” Shulman. We flipped to the Q&A immediately after seeing his handsome mug on the cover only to find the Commish’s picture at right. It makes us think that he’s channeling Monty Burns, which some of you probably find appropriate.
The Q&A is pretty much what you would expect, touching on the new preparer regulations, “We ran a very open, transparent, public dialogue about this,” to threatening offshore tax scofflaws, “The U.S. government is getting very serious about rooting out offshore tax evasion,” and warning whistleblowers not to expect that money any time soon, “[T]his could take multiple years to get the awards out. But I’m a big fan of the program.”
A couple of more interesting statements, include how excited Dougie is that all the assignments that other government agencies don’t want, get dumped on the service, “it’s…a big compliment that we’re seen as a ‘go-to’ agency in government.”
That being said, this particular interview was certainly conducted prior to the passage of the healthcare reform bill and no mention of the IRS’ role in enforcement (or lack thereof) was brought up. Maybe if the JofA had seen the Bill O’Reilly/Anthony Weiner throwndown it would have been a stop the presses moment.
The only other thing worth noting is that pizza parlors around the country might want to tighten up the ship in the coming months, “We will build features into our technology system so if we see, say, a pizza parlor that says they had $90,000 of sales last year and it shows that they had $85,000 of credit card sales and we know that pizzerias have a lot of cash sales, that will be a red flag. We’ll use it to better target our audits, to see where there’s potential noncompliance, and then we’ll use it to better focus our resources.”
Maybe the Commish is just giving an example of what a red flag is but using this particular example rather than say, a celebrity, seem peculiar. Just leave Di Fara alone, okay?
Tax From the Top: Q&A With IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman [Journal of Accountancy]
The whole thing is worth watching but 4:17 is where it starts getting awesome.
Did you count? Congressman Weiner was rendered silent for approximately 13 seconds!
Weiner: I’ll say that again – that are just lies.
Weiner: I’m answering the question, you’re making stuff up.
O’Reilly: Ask Wesley Snipes
Weiner gives the loudest SIGH we’ve ever heard around 4:30
Weiner: Watch this Bill, watch this.
O’Reilly: I asked you five times.
Best look given by each:
If you refuse to use the White House’s tax savings tool purely out of spite then you’ll be happy to know that 180 IRS locations across this great land will be open this Saturday to help you out with things like the Homebuyer tax credit, the American Opportunity Credit, the Making Work Pay credit, and the Expanded Earned Income Credit.
Now we realize that the mere thought of setting foot inside an IRS location will cause many you to break out in boils, the other option is to go to a VITA location and get assistance from one of the many college students out there that are giving amateur advice so that they have one more activity on their resumé. They’re available throughout tax season. They are volunteers, after all.
The Service is trying to make this sound way more fun than it actually is by calling them “open houses”:
“We are holding these special open houses to give taxpayers who are struggling in these difficult economic times more opportunity to work directly with IRS employees to resolve their tax issues,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will host more than 180 open houses this Saturday.”
Whether Dougie will be on hand at one of the many locations to shed out his wisdom (or maybe get some advice) hasn’t been made clear.
How much tax would you pay on April 15 if the IRS couldn’t levy on your bank account, slap you with a lien, charge you penalties and interest, or send you to jail? Not much, eh? Then ponder the rules forcing individuals to buy “minimum essential coverage” under Obamacare.
The forced purchase of insurance is key to Obamacare. The “personal responsibility requirement” – a funny name for a requirement imposed by the state – is needed to make sure that low-risk individuals buy insurance to help keep it affordable for high-risk buyers (or, less politely, healthy young men are forced to subsidize everybody else). The penalty is considered vital to any semblance of fiscal soundness for the program. The rule is backed up by penalties and will be collected on tax returns.
The reaction of healthy young men in 2014 when this penalty kicks in will be “Dude. You’re not serious.”
And they will be right.
Caleb noted this yesterday from the Joint Committee of Taxation explanation of the penalties (my emphasis):
The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.
If we take them at their word – and new Code Sec.5000A(g)(2) seems to say just this – why would any sensible taxpayer ever pay the penalty?
• They can’t threaten you with jail.
• They can’t hit you with a lien.
• They can’t levy your accounts.
• There’s no interest charge, so even if you do pay it late somehow, you’ve had the interest in the meantime.
We tax preparers probably won’t be allowed to recommend non-payments to our clients, or we will be silenced by our new IRS preparer enforcement overlords, but people will figure it out in a hurry. And if you think that people will pay taxes anyway without the threat of collection, penalties or interest, then why are we wasting any money funding the IRS?
This provision means one of two things: either this penalty is a joke, and they are just kidding about the cost estimates of the bill — they will be much, much higher — or the toothless penalties are just a PR stunt that they plan to correct as soon as they can get away with it.
Since Jesse James’ tax lien is relatively small — $3,918 — you can probably chalk this up to a mistake. However, since the taxes are related to 2007, could it be that it was an oversight? A mistake? Poor judgment?
Poor judgment akin to say, inviting a tattoo model/stripper/rumored white supremacist into your bike shop to cheat on your wife? Is that sort of the same thing?
Tax debt adds to sex scandal for Sandra Bullock beau [Tax Watchdog]
In today’s celebrity tax scofflaw du jour, we learn that Ving “Why do people always have to bring up that scene in Pulp Fiction” Rhames owes the IRS over $800k from two liens, both filed by the IRS in Los Angeles.
Rhames has had trubs in the past, having liens filed against him last May as well.
It seems to that California, being in the fiscal trouble that’s it in, really needs to call on its other celebrity residents to hold some sort of Haiti-esque fundraiser for some of their fellow celebs.
Sure, it might not fix all the state’s budget problems but at least we could admire our celebrities for being financially responsible pillars of the community rather than pillars of the community when there’s an international crisis. Plus, maybe California wouldn’t have to fire more teachers.
In semi-related news, you will never, ever, EVER hear about Ludacris owing the IRS a damn thing. Not now, not ever.
“I pay more in taxes than most people would ever imagine. I guarantee you, I’m looking dead in the camera, you will never hear about Ludacris owing the damn IRS no damn money.”
Okay, financial celebrities f-ups, get on the horn and find out what the great financial mind-cum-rapper/actor of Ludacris has in store for you. Things haven’t worked out so far, so it can’t hurt to see what the man has to say.
Ving Rhames far from OK with Uncle Sam [Tax Watchdog]
As we’ve recently learned, IRS Agents are a zealous bunch. If you’re out of compliance you can bet the life of your labrador that they will run you down for the overdue tax, regardless of the sum.
Now perhaps you’ve been thinking that a little bribery might take care of things if you find yourself in a bit tax trouble. IRS Agents are human(?) after all; they fall ill to the temptations of this world just like the rest of us. And because they most likely have some sort of accounting background, they are most certainly caffeine abusers and thus, Starbucks whores.
But an Agent’s first responsibility is to serve the American Taxpayer and your attempts to tempt these civil servants with sweet, venti-sized, mega-calorie caffeinated beverages WILL NOT WORK:
Kim Oahn Thi Tran, also known as Jennifer Kim Tran, faced a tax liability of more than $13,287 for the 2006 and 2007 tax years on unreported income of $30,334, authorities said.
In hopes of lowering her tax liability, Tran sent a package on Nov. 30 to IRS revenue agent Imad Hararah that contained promissory notes and a $100 gift card for Starbucks Coffee that read, “To Imad: Enjoy,” investigators said.
Agent Hararah did not fall for this ploy. Nor did he accept the $2,000 that Tran attempted to give him. Instead this presented itself as a perfect opportunity to add charges, “On Dec. 9, Tran gave the agent $1,500, authorities said. In exchange, Hararah gave her a phony document that made Tran believe that she had a zero balance for 2006 and 2007 tax years.”
Does this guy love his job or what? Not cold hard cash nor natural stimulant will distract this man from doing his job. We can only assume that his brethren are of the same cloth and soon we’ll hear about Agents turning down dates with Lane Kiffin.
Woman charged with trying to bribe IRS agent [SF Chronicle]
A man in Oklahoma City fled police after IRS agents that had been staking out his house attempted to pull him over after it was clear he wasn’t showing up for his court date. The tax-hater du jour was due for a court date in Texas and when the IRS Agents realized he wasn’t headed for the LSS, they tried to stop him. The suspect then did what any clear-thinking person would do when pursued by IRS agents: ESCAPE.
An OKC policman saw the speeding Lexus, pursued, and one left turn later and a brief foot race later, the tax scofflaw was brought justice. IRS: 1. A guy that has probably appeared shirtless on Cops: 0.
No word on whether the IRS were the zealous type but we’re assuming they were packing heat. And since this particular ne’er do well had a court date, it’s safe to assume that he had a settle up for more than just his pocket change.
So this morning we learned that some IRS Agents decided to get huffy with a taxpayer over a sum that was less than a sketchy gas station party favor.
With this in mind, the more affluent of you may think that the IRS was finally recognizing that the millionaires in this country are the ones that make things happen. If the IRS would just BTFU and let the rich do their thing we’d get this economy back to blowing asset bubbles.
Unfortunately, Doug Shulman has remained steadfast in his commitment to making millionaires’ life hell by virtue of increasing the number of IRS audits on the wealthy.
According to a report in the New York Times, audits of individuals that earn at least $1 million are way up, “The federal agency increased its audits of taxpayers who earned $1 million to $5 million by 33 percent last year compared with 2008.” And if you’re in an even higher class of Joneses, your chances of getting audited are going up too, “[T]he I.R.S. increased its audits by 16 percent for those earning $5 million to $10 million last year. Audits of those who made at least $10 million rose by 8.5 percent, according to the data.”
The Times quotes a tax expert, Richard Boggs of Nationwide Tax Relief who then says the unthinkable (our emphasis):
“The I.R.S. is getting smart,” he said. “They are starting to better leverage their time, resources and talent in order to collect the most money. There is a definite shifting of the tide.” He said audits of those making at least $10 million rose slightly less than for other categories because so many of the ultrawealthy were already being audited.
We’re sure Mr Boggs is a top-notch tax guru but there is strong evidence that suggests that the IRS will still try to collect less substantial sums.
However, we have to admit, the numbers don’t lie. Millionaires out there, your chances of getting audited are going up and that sucks. But what should make everyone really nervous is the Service attempting to collect your loose change. Next time you see a nickel on the ground, we suggest you leave it there.
In this morning’s roundup we gave a couple of examples of why you should consider giving the IRS a break and remember that they’re civil servants just doing their jobs. All the violence, jokes and resentment are a little self-serving so maybe we should all just back off.
And then we heard about a couple of jackbooted agents (armed to the teeth, presumably) heading over to Herv’s Metro Car Wash in Sacramento to demand some delinquent taxes from the owner Aaron Zeff.
“They were deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending,” says Harv’s owner, Aaron Zeff…
“It’s hilarious,” he says, “that two people hopped in a car and came down here for just 4 cents. I think (the IRS) may have a problem with priorities.”
How on Earth could two agents be ‘deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending’ over four f—ing cents? How serious are they required to take their jobs? In the job description does it explain “the collection of delinquent taxes are to be vigorously pursued, regardless of the sum”?
Plus, the letter states $202.31 of penalties and interest are supposedly due on the delinquent portion. Has the IRS gotten so desperate for funds that it has delved into loan sharking? What’s more, Zeff has a letter from October 2009 stating that he ‘has filed all required returns and addressed any balances due,’ which now makes us think that the Service is pulling names out of hat and saying “who is our delinquent taxpayer of the day?”
It’s hard to believe that with just a few days prior to the first corporate filing deadline of 2010, that these two agents didn’t have anything better to do. Someone could have sent them to a sorting facility or, God forbid, have them review some returns. Jesus, put them on loan to the Utah branch if nothing else. They need all the help they can get over there.
IRS visits Sacramento carwash in pursuit of 4 cents [Sacramento Bee via TaxProf]
This apparently happened late yesterday but jesus, who the hell is the jokester in Utah?
So it turned out to be personal items. That could be anything and it sounds a little silly to blow the package up to find out that it’s filled with undies and socks (although we understand the paranoia).
This is the second false alarm for an IRS facility in Utah in less than two weeks. Last Monday Hazmat crews and the FBI showed up at the Ogden facility after someone found some baking powder and people started having seizures.
Whoever is behind these false alarms is probably having a good laugh about the whole thing. It could be the ghost of Joseph Stack for all we know. Then again, his Facebook group keeps growing so perhaps that’s a good place to start.
“A lot of people think of the IRS and have a little bit of fear of the IRS and we want to make sure they know that our doors are open, our people are empowered to make decisions and our goal is to resolve your problem.”
That’s according to Janet Napolitano. Who knew that the Homeland Security Secretary was such an adept hair-splitter?
From the Washington Post 44 Blog: “To our belief, he was a lone wolf. He used a terrorist tactic, but an individual who uses a terrorist tactic doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of an organized group attempting an attack on the United States,” Napolitano said.
We decided to get to the bottom of this. Here’s the definition of “terrorism”:
The systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion
Okay then. The applicable definition of “terror”:
Violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.
So “groups” is the key word here. Fine but does that include Facebook groups because, “His name is Joseph Stack” has 357 members. And did she run this past Treasury? Geithner and Shulman might have a different opinion.
In semi-related news, the SEC has announced that they will determine a “single high quality global definition of terrorism” within five years, at which time, any attacks on SEC facilities will be appropriately classified.
Suge Knight may be the heir apparent to Nicolas Cage for the King of celebrity tax trouble. There have been several minor liens thrown in here and there and Nas’ $3+ million tax lien was certainly impressive but Suge’s looks like a solid leader for the crown right now.
We should note that for the purposes of celebrity tax issues, Joe Francis does not qualify since he’s technically a “douche” and not a “celebrity”. Also, since the $33 million-ish lien just up and disappeared (we’re assuming that Lucifer is somehow involved) he’s off the hook.
Anyhoo, so being tardy on taxes seems to be a common occurrence but Suge seems to be going for the tardiest of the tardy. He has managed to avoid paying a tax lien, originally filed in 2003, for his 1996 tax return. TMZ is reporting that the lien was re-filed in January and that he owes $6,578,696.31.
TMZ is also reporting that in child support papers filed by Suge’s baby mama, it was revealed that his net income is only $1,207 so paying this lien is going to need some kind of resurrected 2Pac comeback somethingorother.
The blog Baller Status also reports that last month “several personal items he had tucked away in storage were auctioned off to the highest bidder after he failed to pay the storage fees. Belongings such as furniture, TVs, and even a large photo of himself with the late Tupac Shakur were sold.”
So whenever you’re feeling a little down about your own dire personal financial situation or think about your crappy pay, just remember that you could be Suge Knight.
SO! We’ve been feeling sorry for the IRS lately because well, people HATE the Service. It’s cases like these that might, just might, cause some people to flip their lid.
Kevin Kilduff, one of the “most highly regarded” tax attorneys in Boston was suspended from practicing before the IRS for 48 months by Treasury Secretary’s Appellate Authority after he appealed an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) decision to suspend him for just 24 months. The complaint was filed by the Office of Professional Responsibility who oversees CPAs, EAs and attorneys who practice before the Service
From the decision of the ALJ, “The Complaint alleges Respondent failed to timely file Federal tax returns for the tax years 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, and failed to file a tax return for tax year 2002.”
Considering the fact that Mr Kilduff used to work at the IRS and since leaving has represented many clients before the Service, so you would expect he would have a good story.
Annnnnnd he did . Two-fold: 1) “[The] matter was instituted as a personal vendetta against him by Revenue Officer 1 because of his “zealous” representation of a client in dealing with Revenue Officer 1, the IRS agent in the case.” and 2) “his mother was diagnosed with Illness 1 and he quit his job in Philadelphia and moved to Boston and moved in with his parents to care for his mother, and remained with them for the next five years. During this period, he and his sister cared for their parents, cooking and taking them to doctor appointments”
Judge Joel Biblowitz, was sympathetic to Mr Kilduff’s situation (re: sick Mom) but was impressed with his attitude (emphasis original):
Throughout the course of this matter, I was struck by the Respondent’s apparent disinterest in, or lack of respect for, this proceeding…In his response, the Respondent stated: “I am happy to provide your office with copies of these tax returns if it is necessary,” although he did not do so. It appears to me that if he truly took the IRS’ complaint seriously, he would have responded immediately after receiving Whitlock’s October 11, 2006 letter and would have sent him a copy of his 2002 Federal tax return, rather than waiting almost four months before responding and offering to provide the return.
Mr Kilduff also didn’t respond to the Judge Biblowitz’s order to notify the OPR of his witnesses and exhibits in his case. Just plain ignored it. If we know anything about judges, it’s that you don’t ignore them.
I find that neither defense has merit. While I can sympathize with the Respondent and his obligations and sacrifices during this period, the record establishes that during the period encompassing tax years 2000 through 2005 he was employed full time for a major laws firm with yearly adjusted gross income ranging from $102,000 to $138,000. Further, while he had obligations caring for his parents during this period, it is difficult to imagine that he could not find the time to prepare and timely file these returns.
IRS Wins 48-Month Suspension of a Lawyer for Failing to File His Own Tax Return and Late Filing [IRS.gov]
IRS Suspends One of Boston’s ‘Most Highly Regarded’ Tax Lawyers for 48 Months for Failing to File Tax Returns [TaxProf Blog]
Tax Attorney Suspended from Practicing Before IRS [Web CPA]
Okay, so the past few weeks we’ve seen some psychotic behavior as it pertains to IRS. And yesterday, someone’s llelo (yes, it’s Utah, but that’s the best we’ve got right now) was mistaken for Anthrax and it caused the FBI and Hazmat to storm the building and leave with bodies wrapped up like mummies. If you’re getting worried that people might be freaking out, you’ve got some solid evidence in your corner.
The good news is that not everyone who hates the IRS with every fiber of their being is so cold that they’ll fly a plane into a building, shoot a gun at their spouse or destroy the very home they live in.
Michelle Lowry knows first-hand how much people hate the Internal Revenue Service.
The 37-year-old Leander woman, who processes forms for the IRS in Austin, confronts that venom regularly. People slip razor blades and pushpins into the same envelopes as their W-2 forms. They send nasty notes with their crumpled documents. Last year during the height of the Tea Party movement, hundreds of taxpayers included — what else? — tea bags with their returns.
See? It is possible to show hatred for the IRS without trying to killing someone or destroying your own property. Let’s try thinking things through before we start going completely batshit insane, shall we?
Passive-aggressive protest seems like a more modern way of showing contempt for the government anyway.
Threats, contempt come with job for IRS workers [Austin American-Statesman]
We get it. No one likes the IRS.
Hazardous materials crews and the FBI were on the scene Monday at the IRS building in Ogden, Utah, where two people were removed on stretchers and several others were undergoing decontamination showers. The FBI released no information about the incident.
We don’t have to remind you about what’s been going on lately with regards to Doug Shulman’s shop.
Statement from the IRS:
At approximately 11:15 AM MST, we detected an unknown substance at the IRS Campus located at 1973 Rulon White Boulevard, Ogden, UT. A local Haz-Mat team was dispatched and standard procedures for responding to such an incident were implemented. At this point we cannot provide additional details because we are continuing to assess the situation.
Actually he has quite a ways to go to get to the nearly $14 million that NC agreed to pay the IRS and isn’t even close to the $33 million that “Douche of the Decade” Joe Francis owed (that has now been dropped we should add) but a $3 million tax lien is nothing to sneeze at.
On the other tax deadbeat hand, Nas easily eclipsed other recent tax scofflaws including Snoop Dogg’s lien of $600k, Jose Canseco’s $320k and Eve’s $357k. But actually, it’s not really that hard considering, “sources say Nas doesn’t have a clue he’s going under financially…He was at Sundance recently and raked in $50,000 for a performance, which, we’re told, he blew before he blew out of Sundance.”
Reality to Nas — ‘Memba Me? [TMZ]
Recent Celebrity Tax Scofflaws:
Tax Deadbeat of the Day: Jose Canseco
Why Snoop Dogg’s Latest Tax Problem Isn’t a Surprise
The IRS Wants a Piece of Eve
Joe Francis Continues to Get Hassled by the IRS
Nicolas Cage’s Catastrophic Financial Situation May be Coming to End
Try to make sense of this: J Can made $45 million playing baseball, “wrote” two books that essentially ruined the juicing party in MLB, has been on countless reality shows, tried his hand at mixed martial arts and he can’t scrape together $320,000 for the IRS and the state of California?
Okay, can’t undo what’s done and unfortunately, Canseco has limited options. He can’t really call McGwire, Bonds, A-Rod, Jason Giambi for a loan. That’s just awkward, plus he doesn’t strike us as the type of guy who would pay you back if he could.
If the MMA doesn’t work out, then we’re thinking he’s still got plenty of options:
• Working outside an Abercrombie & Fitch
• Bouncer on a porn movie set
• Jersey Shore cameos
Other possibilities? Sure they’d have to garnish his wages but dude needs to get the ball rolling.
Slugger Jose Canseco strikes out with tax agencies [Tax Watchdog]
Seriously. Does anyone think that Snoop Dogg forgetting about his taxes is that much of a stretch? He’s got to have the money; the Starsky & Hutch royalties alone should be able to settle the $598-odd thousand lien that the IRS slapped on him.
So the only plausible explanation is that he forget to pay the taxes. He’s got the regular day-to-day celebrity issue that Nicolas Cage or Eve may have but come on people. His daily ritual consists of choosing between White Widow, Hollands Hope or Northern Lights (or whatever strain he wants, really); has it occurred to anyone that it may have slipped his mind?
D-O-Double G got hit with a lien last year too so isn’t this the kind of tax compliance we’ve come to expect anyway? It’s basically like you scrounging around for your keys every morning. It’s the routine.
Yes, we suppose that he could hire a CPA to take care of his business affairs but we’re guessing that may have escaped the mental to-do list too. NBD, really. See you next year Snoop.