It seems that there is some growing legislative opposition to a portion of the government's broader initiative to combat offshore tax evasion. To induce foreign nations to release information on U.S. taxpayers who have bank accounts overseas, the Internal Revenue Service has proposed a quid pro quo arrangement: Provide account information on our taxpayers and we will hand over the identities of your citizens who hold assets in the U.S.
Florida readers may be interested to know that a federal appeals court decided an important tax case this week. The matter involved a man who held funds in offshore accounts from 1993 to 2000 and, the Internal Revenue Service alleged, willfully failed to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. The willfulness element of the taxpayer's conduct was especially important because it has been some time since a circuit court has ruled on the issue.
Residents of South Florida will remember Mandy Dawson, who served in the state Legislature for over a decade and a half. Authorities alleged that she received a great deal of money during her time in office from certain lobbyists in order to secure her favor on votes of concern to the interests that the lobbyists represented.
One former vice president of Latex International is currently serving a four-year prison term in Florida for her role in an embezzlement scheme conducted in conjunction with the company's erstwhile CEO. Her prison sentence is less than that recently meted out to the former CEO by a federal district court judge, however. In criminal cases, there are guidelines regarding the length of a sentence. Under certain circumstances, judges are allowed to depart from the guidelines, and in this instance, the judge went above the upper guideline to pronounce a term of 70 months.
Florida prosecutors are alleging that a man prepared and filed false tax returns while he was serving time at a state correctional facility. According to investigators in the case, Department of Corrections employees said that they became suspicious when they discovered that one inmate had been mailing a number of returns to the Internal Revenue Service. The state is claiming that the man made more than $50,000 in the alleged tax fraud scheme.
Miami music fans may have heard of the tax troubles of Lauryn Hill, a singer that has received critical acclaim as a solo artist and as a member of the now disbanded Fugees. Hill was charged with failing to file federal income tax returns for three years: 2005, 2006 and 2007. Late last month, she entered guilty pleas to the tax evasion charges and she faces sentencing before a federal judge in November.
Bernard Madoff has become a household name around Miami and throughout the country. While he is currently serving 150 years in prison for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme, his brother Peter could receive a sentence of 10 years for tax evasion and other white collar crimes. Last month, prosecutors agreed to have Peter Madoff serve no longer than a decade in exchange for his admission of guilt. The prison term will become official when a federal judge sentences him in October.
Early last month, we included a post on how the Department of the Treasury has come to terms with five European nations regarding the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Under the agreements with those countries, foreign banks would be required to provide information on the accounts of U.S. taxpayers to their governments.