The United States Attorney's Office has continued its investigation into an alleged money laundering conspiracy and Ponzi scheme by obtaining indictments against four additional defendants, including a man from Florida. The government has been filing charges and seeking convictions related to this case since 2010.
It is well known to Florida couples that marriage provides beneficial tax breaks not available to single taxpayers. But unless you have had some trouble with the IRS, you may not know that marriage can have its tax drawbacks as well. When a couple files a joint return, they are "jointly and severally liable" for any wrongdoing represented in the return. In other words, if one spouse engages in tax fraud, the IRS can go after both of them.
Florida taxpayers may see an uptick in the IRS's activity next year. Federal budget cuts during the past two years have seen a reduction in the funds allocated to the IRS. But the proposed 2013 budget released this week by the Obama Administration represents a change of course with regard to the IRS. Concerned that prior cuts to the IRS prevented it from capturing tax revenue, the new budget includes significant funding increases for the IRS.
We have written frequently about the rise in identity theft that has been used to file fraudulent tax returns. Taxpayers can unwittingly be dragged into a controversy with the IRS when someone steals their identity. But taxpayers can also come under scrutiny from the IRS when someone they trusted files a fraudulent tax return on their behalf.
Taxpayers in Tampa and around Florida are frustrated by the lack of service that they receive at local IRS offices. Many taxpayers have found that their identities have been stolen and that people have already filed for refunds in their name. This is despite the fact that the tax season is only a few weeks old and the IRS said that it implemented new identity theft protection and criminal tax fraud measures.
Residents of Florida are likely aware that the United States government is stepping up its efforts to find Americans who have used Swiss banks to set up offshore accounts and avoid paying taxes. The Swiss government has attempted to reach a settlement with the United States on behalf of all Swiss banks. The two sides have been unable to hammer out the details, however, which would presumably include the imposition of a fine and a requirement that banks divulge the names of account holders.
Residents of South Florida are no doubt familiar with Mandy Dawson, the former politician who served as a member of the state House and Senate in the 1990s and 2000s. Embroiled in a corruption scandal, she was charged with income tax evasion for failing to pay taxes on the money she received in order to secure her vote. She was also charged with failing to file tax returns. This week, she decided to plead guilty to the charges and avoid trial.
As the citizens of South Florida begin receiving the tax forms they will need to file their returns, some people have found that their returns have already been filed and their refunds fraudulently claimed without their consent.
In our last post we discussed the National Taxpayer Advocate's position on the IRS's handling of offshore bank account issues. The IRS recently reopened its voluntary disclosure program for Miami residents, but the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson recently testified before Congress regarding the IRS's handling of undisclosed offshore bank account cases.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says that the IRS' treatment of criminal tax evasion is unfair when compared to how the IRS treats individuals who unintentionally shielded assets from U.S. taxation. The National Taxpayer Advocate is an autonomous figure within the IRS who addresses taxpayer issues. The recent wave of offshore bank account-related activity has drawn the advocate's attention and she has decided to speak out against the disparities in the IRS's approach toward different classes of taxpayers.