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Miami Tax Law Blog

Copyright benefits limited by law

The United States federal government establishes and oversees the copyright laws for all the states, including Florida. There are certain items that can be copyrighted and others that cannot. There are also a number of steps that must be taken to put a copyright in place and specified uses of copyrighted materials that do not necessarily infringe the copyright.

Items that can be copyrighted include literary, artistic, musical and other intellectual works. However, the rights of ownership extended to the creator are not unlimited. A portion of the 1976 Copyright Act places boundaries on the privileges provided to the copyright holder. In other cases, there are exemptions to copyright liability. One major clause in the law addresses what is termed and defined as fair use.

Doctor pleads guilty in $18 million tax evasion case

On Dec. 7, federal authorities reported that a Florida doctor who was accused of failing to report $18 million in income over a five-year period pleaded guilty to tax evasion. The doctor reportedly admitted to filing a false income-tax return in 2006, but the government was holding him responsible for failing to pay taxes between 2004 and 2008.

The tax evasion charges were filed in 2013 in a West Palm Beach court following an investigation into the case by both the FBI and the IRS. In a statement filed with the plea agreement, the doctor allegedly acknowledged that he diverted funds from three medical businesses for use on personal projects, including his $12-million Florida home, other real estate purchases and tuition for his children. According to the statement, some of the funds were classified as building repairs and other miscellaneous expenses on behalf of the medical companies.

Man extradited, facing $300 million fraud case

A former music promoter was arraigned in a South Florida court on Jan. 9 for allegedly operating his music promotion business as a Ponzi scheme. The man, who had allegedly fled to Brazil in 2006 in an attempt to evade charges, was extradited from the country back to Florida last month. His extradition was ordered in August 2014 after the culmination of a long court battle.

The music promoter's business, Worldwide Entertainment, Inc., had produced concerts for famous artists, including for Aerosmith, Elton John and the Rolling Stones. The man is accused of using money he received from older investors in order to pay returns to newer ones.

Apple facing lawsuit for alleged fraud

On Dec. 29, two Florida men filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that the company had engaged in fraudulent business practices. According to the lawsuit, Apple misrepresented the actual amount of storage space available on the 16GB iPhone 6, the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus and the 16GB iPad Air.

Lawyers for the two plaintiffs allege that Apple told consumers that their products had 16GB of storage space available when in reality the products have between 12.6GB and 13GB of storage space available. Although the phones technically have 16GB of storage capacity, about a fifth of the storage space is used up by the operating system and the apps that come pre-installed on the devices.

Consequences for failing to pay income taxes

Each year many individuals, including Florida residents and business owners, omit filing their federal tax returns. While some may be anxious about filing their taxes because they have gotten behind or because they assume they can just pay the penalties instead, others may omit filing because of circumstances involving personal issues or a business setback. There are consequences for those who purposely continue to neglect paying their taxes.

Nonfilers who continue to ignore tax laws may ultimately face criminal charges. However, the Internal Revenue Service, in an effort to help delinquent taxpayers avoid those charges, will give nonfilers a period in which to come forward and explain their reasons for not filing voluntarily. On review of the disclosure, the IRS will decide if the nonfiler is guilty of violating the law or if there is sufficient cause to warrant a reduction in the person's tax liability or arrange a payment plan.

Florida man reportedly pocketed nearly $750,000 in mortgage scam

According to reports, a Lighthouse Point man claiming to represent a federally funded mortgage program raked in an estimated $750,000 from unwitting homeowners. The man, who entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud, could be sentenced to a jail term of up to 30 years for his alleged criminal activity.

The scam reportedly began in February 2011 when the man, falsifying himself as a federal official, made telephone calls to homeowners across the U.S. informing them of their eligibility for a loan modification program that would allow them to take advantage of lower mortgage payments. His initial calls were then followed up by second calls to the homeowners in which he pretended to be the homeowner's original lender. In the call, he reassured the homeowner that the loan modification program was genuine and confirmed the new, lowered payment plan. The scammer further alluded to possible notices of foreclosure and delinquency notification from their lender, instructing his victims to disregard the warnings.

Possible penalties for money laundering

Florida law defines money laundering as financial transactions that attempt to conceal profits gained from otherwise unlawful activities. In order for a defendant to be convicted, the prosecution must typically be able to provide evidence indicating the person's awareness of the income's unlawful source and intention to conceal it through the transactions in question. Someone convicted of money laundering may face serious penalties.

Money laundering charges can be in the first, second or third degree, and these are defined by the value of the financial transactions made by a given defendant. For example, a first-degree felony is considered to have occurred when the value of the transactions has exceeded $100,000 within a 12-month period. Someone convicted of first-degree money laundering could face up to 30 years' imprisonment. A second-degree felony occurs when the value of transactions amounts to between $20,000 and $100,000, while a third-degree felony occurs when the value to transactions amounts to between $300 and $20,000. A second-degree felony can result in up to 15 years' imprisonment, and a third-degree felony can result in up to five years' imprisonment.

Guilty plea entered in home loan modification scam

According to officials, a 36-year-old Florida man pleaded guilty to fraud on Dec. 22 in connection with a home loan modification scam. Reportedly, the man targeted homeowners who were delinquent on their mortgages.

Authorities reported the man telephoned victims, offering loan modifications that he claimed were backed by the federal government. He would then send letters informing victims they had been approved, directing them to send mortgage payments to one of two addresses in Washington, D.C.

2 accused of money laundering in Florida

Two Florida men accused of conspiring to deposit profits from drug sales into bank accounts in order to pay for the wages of undocumented workers were taken into custody on Dec. 19. Reportedly, IRS agents played a significant role in the operation that resulted in the detention of the two Florida men, ages 42 and 46.

The criminal complaint filed in connection with this case states that the IRS agents were working undercover when they first met with the two men, in January. The agent purportedly led the two men to believe that he was seeking to move a maximum of $20,000 in cash per day. According to the complaint, the men told the undercover agent that his business was already involved in illegal activity and went on to outline a strategy for the undercover agent using a Bank of America account. Both men entered guilty pleas to the charges.

Defending individuals and businesses facing tax controversies

Tax audits, examinations and other IRS controversies can be intimidating for individuals and businesses in Florida. When the allegations involve potential charges for financial crimes, the situation can become even more stressful. If you are facing serious IRS tax fraud allegations, the attorneys at WEISBERG KAINE MARK, PL may be able to help you.

As criminal defense attorneys, we are prepared to handle the most serious tax controversies, including tax fraud and evasion. Before you are handed an indictment, we can start working with you on a robust defense strategy. If and when you are finally taken to court, we'll be ready to tenaciously defend your case in an effort to protect your livelihood, reputation and freedom.

Contact Information

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Miami, Florida 33131-3504
Phone: 305.374.5544
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