Inviting IRS to audit you

By John Bullis
The Nevada Appeal
June 21, 2011

IRS does not have the people and resources to audit every individual income tax return. It varies, but about 1 percent of all returns are audited each year.

IRS has a good computer “matching” program. They record information from banks and companies that pay you under your Social Security number. Then, when you file your return, the computer looks to see if you reported all of the income the IRS has knowledge of.

You are inviting IRS to audit or at least send a notice if you don’t report all of the forms 1099 on your return.

Now, some forms — 1099 — are issued in error or by mistake. If you get a form that is not correct, contact the folks that sent it to you. Ask for a corrected form.

The forms are sent to you about the end of January or so, but IRS is not sent the forms until later — the end of February or so.

Some forms are from stock brokers about sales of stock, bonds, etc. The information sent to IRS only covers the sale part of the transaction. Your cost is not sent to IRS. You have to claim it on your return.

By the way, the original cost of the stock plus dividends you received in the form of more shares is the tax basis you can claim. We suggest a “spreadsheet” listing is best to show the total cost and dividends reinvested and show the total number of shares.

The problem with a form 1099 that is not correct is it is time consuming and no fun to get a corrected form. On the other hand, it is easier to correct than to deal with the IRS audit or Notice.

Just like we suggest every IRS Notice should be responded to in a timely manner, it is important to work on getting the corrected form 1099 as quickly as possible.

That means you need to keep your own records in most cases, to know if the form 1099 you received is correct.

All returns are open for audit or you can amend (correct) your return for three years from the filing date (as a general rule). Save all of your tax records for at least four years. IRS doesn’t start the matching program, doesn’t send Notices, etc. until about a year or so after you file the return, sometimes later than that.

Don’t get upset if you get an IRS Notice or audit. Just deal with it in a timely manner or get help to respond correctly.

Did you hear “You are not responsible for the thoughts that pass your door. You are responsible for those you admit and entertain.”

Former Louisianna Sheriff’s deputy, wife plead guilty to fraud

By Littice Bacon-Blood
The Times-Picayune, June 21, 2011

A former St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s lieutenant and his wife, who owned an accounting service company, pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court on Monday for filing false federal tax returns and collecting more than $800,000 using the names of inmates held in the parish jail, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office.

The Times-Picayune archiveHale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
The couple is said to have filed false tax returns over a 10-month period from about April 8, 2005 to about Feb. 20, 2006.

Lt. Warren LeBeauf Jr., 42, and his wife, Tamara Scott-Landry, 37, entered the guilty plea the morning of their trial before U. S. District Judge Carl Barbier, authorities said.

The two were charged May 6, 2010 in an 88-count indictment and are set for sentencing on the charges on Sept. 22 before Barbier.

They face a maximum of 10 years on the conspiracy to commit fraud charge, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years of probation.

Scott-Landry, who also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, faces a maximum 20 years on the wire fraud charge and a mandatory two years added to any sentence she receives for the aggravated identity theft charge.

LeBeauf, who had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since 1989 and worked as a resource officer at Destrehan High School, was terminated July 30, 2010 for violating department policies, said St. Charles Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes.

According to federal authorities, LeBeauf used a law enforcement data base to obtain personal information on inmates such as Social Security number and birth date and passed it along to Scott-Landry to make fraudulent income tax refund claims.

Authorities say that LeBeauf met a St. Charles Sheriff’s Office 911 call center operator at a park and paid $100 for more than 4,000 pages of print outs from that law enforcement database which was used to fraudulently collect approximately $810,183 in income tax refunds.

Yoes said the operator, who had worked for the department for nearly 30 years, resigned July 2, 2010 before disciplinary action could be taken against her.

The tax forms filed electronically with the IRS made the returns payable to cashiers checks and stored valued cards. The money was then deposited into bank accounts controlled by LeBeauf and Scott-Landry, authorities said.

According to the indictment, the individual tax return amounts ranged from $1,577 to $3,525.

At one point authorities say Scott-Landry withdrew $26,000 in cash over a three-day period from an ATM and the couple went to a Chevrolet dealership and bought a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban “with a paper bag full” of cash.

It was in that SUV, parked in the drive way of Scott-Landry’s house, that authorities say they found inmate names and other items used in the scam.

During the execution of a search warrant, and “in the presence of almost a dozen armed IRS agents,” authorities say LeBeauf arrived at the house with an unknown person and attempted to leave with the SUV.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division which has made investigatin refund fraud and identity theft a top priority said James C. Lee, special agent in charge, IRS criminal investigation.

CA Man Arrested After IRS Mistakenly Deposits $110K In His Account

The Huffington Post
James Sunshine, 06/19/11

Last September, Laguna Beach resident Stephen McDow found $110,000 deposited in his bank account, courtesy of the IRS. That same deposit has now landed him in hot water, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The IRS mistakenly sent the tax refund money, meant for a 67-year-old woman, to McDow, instead, reports local news station KCAL. The Los Angeles woman reportedly failed to inform the IRS that she had closed the bank account she had filed with them, and the account number was subsequently assigned to McDow.

When the woman discovered that McDow had been the recipient of her refund, she called him and demanded her money back. McDow, in turn, offered to pay back the balance in monthly payments, as he had already spent $60,000 paying off student loans and his home mortgage. Unsatisfied with the suggested size of the monthly payment, the woman declined the offer, according to KCAL.

McDow was subsequently arrested and charged with one felony of grand theft by misappropriation of lost property. He reportedly faces four years imprisonment and is currently being held on bail for the exact amount he first received: $110,000.

Some tax cheats work at the IRS

Almost 3% of IRS workers caught cheating but some slip through cracks

By Andrea Coombes,
June 21, 2011, 5:35 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The IRS catches almost 3,000 tax scofflaws in its own ranks each year, but some employees still dodge the system, according to a new Treasury Department report.

The Internal Revenue Service’s internal program caught on average about 3,000 incidents of noncompliance on employee tax returns each year from 2004 through 2008 — that’s about 3% of its workforce — but 133 employees who may have violated tax law avoided that program’s net in 2006 and 2007, according to the report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, which monitors the IRS.

The potential violations include failure to file a tax return, filing late, failure to report income and failure to pay taxes due.

While the report found that only a tiny portion of the IRS’s some 107,000 employees (in 2007) slipped through the cracks, TIGTA called on the tax agency to root out any and all workers who may be trying to game the system.

“In the inspector-general community, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any incidence of fraud, waste or abuse,” a TIGTA spokeswoman said.

“As the agency of the federal government whose chief mission is to administer the federal tax system, IRS employees are particularly expected to comply with all tax laws,” the TIGTA report said. “The IRS risks an erosion of public confidence in the American voluntary tax system if it does not appropriately address employees who are not complying with their tax obligations.”

For its part, the IRS said in a statement that it imposes harsh penalties for tax fraud within its ranks. “Ensuring that IRS employees comply with the tax law is a top priority for the IRS… Employees who are judged to have willful tax-compliance problems are terminated, in addition to other potential sanctions.”

Also, the IRS said that it investigated the 133 problem cases and most did not constitute fraud. “In 44% of the cases, employees filed a tax return late but were due a refund. And over half the cases have already been reviewed and closed because the facts did not merit further review. We are analyzing the rest of the cases, and if there are problems they will be addressed,” the IRS said.

Inside job

While the scope of the problem appears to be small, examples of IRS workers committing fraud are not hard to find. An IRS agent in Santa Clarita, Calif., in May was sentenced to three years in prison for filing fraudulent returns “for himself and innocent relatives that claimed, among other things, bogus deductions for alimony and mortgage payments,” according to a U.S. Justice Department release.
In April, a part-time data-entry clerk at an IRS office in Fresno, Calif., was charged with filing false tax returns and committing wire fraud and identity theft after allegedly stealing 68 tax returns from an IRS office, filing fraudulent returns using taxpayers’ personal information and claiming excessive federal tax withholding, presumably to generate tax refunds.

Separately, another IRS employee in Fresno in April pleaded guilty to filing false income-tax returns in the names of her husband, who was in state prison at the time, and other prisoners. The tax returns claimed federal tax withholding on wages the prisoners had never earned, to generate tax refunds. The IRS issued tax refunds totaling more than $13,000 based on the false returns, according to Justice Department statement.

And a separate TIGTA report in 2009 found that 128 IRS employees claimed the first-time home-buyer tax credit, even though they might not have been eligible. TIGTA simply identifies potential problems that require further investigation by the IRS.

Andrea Coombes is MarketWatch’s personal finance editor, based in San Francisco.

Seizure on Restaurant Released, But Tax Problems Still Loom

By Jarret Bencks
Medford Patch, June 2, 2011

The bright orange seized sign on the front door of Il Faro restaurant has been taken down, but the Medford Square restaurant is still in hot water with the state’s Department of Revenue.

The seizure on the business was lifted after revenue officials determined nearly all of the restaurant equipment belonged to the landlord at 21 Main St. and could not be auctioned off to pay some of the back taxes, said revenue spokesman Bob Bliss.

The Italian eatery, owned by Giuseppe Longo, still owes $142,784.20 in taxes and penalty fees dating back to 2006, and has made no efforts to create a plan to start paying the debt off, Bliss said.

“The taxpayer clearly is not taking any steps to work anything out with DOR,” Bliss said.

Nearly all of the back taxes, which date back to 2006, stemmed from failing to pay the meals tax, Bliss previously said.

Before being taken down, the sign, dated May 11, read: “The Business Property of Il Faro, Inc. had been seized for nonpayment of taxes, and is now in possession of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…Any person who attempts to tamper or interfere with this property will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Medford Square Restaurant Seized By MA DOR

By Jarret Bencks
Medford Patch, May 18, 2011

A seized Medford Square restaurant charged patrons a meals tax but didn’t pay what they collected to the state, a Department of Revenue Spokesman said Thursday.

Il Faro, an Italian eatery located at 21 Main St., was seized by the Department of Revenue last week because it owes the state a total of $142,784.20 in taxes and penalty fees, department spokesman Bob Bliss said. Nearly all of the back taxes, which date back to 2006, stemmed from the meals tax, he said.

“Patrons paid the meals tax, but the restaurant didn’t forward that to DOR,” Bliss said.

Seizing a business is the last thing the Department of Revenue will do in their efforts to collect unpaid taxes, Bliss said.

“You only get to this point when everything else DOR tries to collect has failed,” he said. “This is sort of the last stop.”

The restaurant had an orange sign on its door Tuesday, reading “SEIZED.” Several florescent signs remained lit inside the windows of the Italian eatery Tuesday afternoon.

If Giuseppe Longo, the owner of the restaurant, can come up with a reasonable down payment and payment plan going forward, the business could be reopened, Bliss said.

“We always hope that’s the case, because it’s a lot easier for us,” Bliss said. “We get the money, the business opens back up and the jobs don’t get lost.”

The business, not the building, was seized. If a payment plan isn’t agreed upon, the property of the restaurant will go to auction in about 4 to 6 weeks, Bliss said.

A call to the restaurant Tuesday was unanswered.

Original Story:

A restaurant in Medford Square has been seized by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for nonpayment of taxes, according to a sign on its door.

Il Faro, an Italian restaurant located at 21 Main St. in Medford, had an orange sign on its door Tuesday, reading “SEIZED.” The sign was dated May 11, 2011.

Several florescent signs remained lit inside the windows of the Italian eatery Tuesday afternoon.

According to filings with the Massachusetts Secretary of State, the owner of the business is Giuseppe Longo. Il Faro first filed as a business with the Secretary of State in 1996, according to state records.

The business was seized but not the building.

The sign on the door read, “The Business Property of Il Faro, Inc. had been seized for nonpayment of taxes, and is now in possession of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…Any person who attempts to tamper or interfere with this property will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Lawyer for North Highlands ‘tax lady’ wants out, says he’s not getting paid

By Andy Furillo
The Sacromento Bee (
Published: Friday, May. 6, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 8, 2011 – 12:35 pm

Embattled tax attorney Roni Deutch hasn’t been paying her legal bills in the state’s effort to shut her down, according to the lawyer representing her, who now says he wants out of the case.

In papers filed in Sacramento Superior Court, attorney James J. Banks said Deutch and her North Highlands law firm are “seriously delinquent and have not paid accrued fees and costs for representation in this matter.”

Banks’ declaration filed Monday also suggested he’s afraid the so-called “tax lady” who advertises heavily on late-night TV might blame him for at least some of her legal problems. Banks cited the concern as another reason he wants to be relieved as Deutch’s counsel.

Under the California Rules of Professional Conduct, Banks said in his filing that it is mandatory for him to bail out on the case as a result of his firm’s “understanding that the clients may assert ‘advice of counsel’ as a defense in a contempt proceeding initiated in this case.”

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne W.L. Chang last month froze Deutch’s assets and appointed a receiver to oversee her accounts after the state attorney general’s office sought to have Deutch jailed for violation of court orders in the case.

The state lawyers contended Deutch shredded between 1.6 million and 2.7 million documents and refused to refund payments to her clients, both of which were ordered from the bench in Sacramento. The state sued her in August on charges that she has swindled her clients out of $34 million.

In a news release last month, state Attorney General Kamala Harris called Deutch “a predator for profit.”

Neither Banks nor Deutch returned telephone calls Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Court-appointed receiver Scott M. Sackett confirmed Thursday that Banks’ law firm has not been getting paid by Deutch but did not know how much she owes.

Sackett is scheduled to file his report next week on Deutch’s finances.

A hearing on Banks’ effort to drop out of the case has been scheduled for May 13. A hearing on the contempt of court allegations is slated for July 22.

California AG says ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch Should Be Jailed For Contempt

By Darrell Smith and Mark Glover
The Sacramento Bee (
Published: Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2011 – 4:34 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 8, 2011 – 12:35 pm

Roni Deutch, the self-styled “Tax Lady,” could face jail time on contempt of court allegations after allegedly shredding millions of pages of documents and failing to pay clients refunds in violation of a court order.

Calling Deutch a “predator for profit,” State Attorney General Kamala Harris on Thursday asked a Sacramento County Superior Court judge to send Deutch to jail and levy thousands of dollars in fines connected to the allegations.

Harris, in a statement, alleged that Deutch destroyed as many as 2.7 million pages of documents, shredding evidence on which state’s attorneys hoped to prosecute their case.

Deutch has been in hot water with the AG’s office for nearly a year. In August 2010, the state’s top law enforcement officer filed a $34 million lawsuit against the Tax Lady accusing her of swindling her clients. Later that same month, a court order was issued preventing Deutch from destroying evidence, according to the attorney general’s statement.

“Deutch showed herself to be a predator for profit, preying on innocent, hard-working people who were simply hoping to settle their accounts with the IRS,” Harris said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Deutch’s law firm, based in North Highlands, posted revenues in excess of $25 million a year, according to the Attorney General’s office. Deutch is probably best-known for her brash style and television commercials that promise relief to tax payers who sign up for her firm’s services.

Attempts to reach Deutch were not immediately successful.

What to Do If You Owe the IRS

By Princess Clark-Wendel
Published May 03, 2011,

April 18 has come and gone, but many taxpayers are facing a large tax bill that they aren’t able to pay. But there are steps they can take to work with the International Revenue Service to develop a payment plan.

After the IRS has made an assessment on what you owe, you have 10 days to pay it in full or be subject to collection action.

Although an account is technically considered delinquent after 10 days, no one will show up at your door on the eleventh day. A series of threatening notices will be mailed to you, and eventually you will be contacted in person by a revenue officer.

What Power Does the IRS Have?

Dealing with the IRS is different than dealing with other debt collectors. Unlike other creditors that have to go to court to obtain a judgment against you and then go back to court to have that judgment enforced, the IRS doesn’t. The agency is vested with the power to seize your property without a court order; the only requirement is that it has a valid assessment, give notice with a demand for payment (which has to be sent to your last known address) and give notice of intent to seize.

In addition to seizing your property, the IRS can also place a levy on your bank accounts and on your salary. This means that both your bank and your employer must turn over all funds being held for you to the extent of the levy. (Note: Special rules apply to levies against salary.)

Certain types of property are exempt by law from levy including:

1. Apparel and schoolbooks (expensive items of apparel such as furs are luxuries and are not exempt from levy);

2. Fuel, provisions, furniture, and personal effects, not to exceed $1,500 in value (for the head of household);

3. Books and tools used in your trade, business or profession, not to exceed $1,000 in value;

4. Unemployment benefits;

5. Undelivered mail;

6. Certain annuity and pension payments (including Social Security benefits);

7. Workers’ compensation;

8. Salary, wages or other income subject to a prior judgment for court ordered child support payments;

9. A minimum amount of wages, salary, and other income – $75 per week – plus an additional $25 for each legal dependent.

The IRS has been seizing personal residences more frequently in recent years. After a “notice of seizure” is placed on the front door of your house, you have 10 days to come up with the owed money, or there is an excellent chance your home will be sold at auction to satisfy the tax bill. You can redeem the house at any time within 180 days after the sale by paying the purchaser the amount paid for the property plus interest; by law, the purchaser must sell.

Act Now

The IRS cannot put you in jail because you owe money, even if the debt has been outstanding for years, unless you fraudulently conceal your assets or otherwise conspire to beat the government out of its money. No crime has been committed merely because you cannot afford to pay your taxes.

But don’t burry your head in the sand if you can’t pay your tax bill, respond immediately to all notices sent requesting payment and make every attempt to speak to someone at the IRS and follow up the conversation with a confirmation letter.

Depending upon your circumstances, the IRS may be willing to enter into an installment agreement for payment of the outstanding taxes. Usually, such a partial-payment agreement requires a down payment, followed by monthly payments over a year or 18 months. If you fail to comply with the terms of the partial-payments agreement, which also requires that all current taxes be paid on time, the agreement becomes void and your property is then subject to levy seizure.

The beginning of the collection process is the best time to try to get the IRS to offer you an installment agreement. If you have ignored the IRS’ attempts to work out an arrangement and you now have a “notice of seizure” on your door, it is extremely unlikely that the agency will create a partial payment agreement with you.

How to Negotiate with the IRS

The first step in negotiating a settlement of taxes owed is to provide the IRS with a current financial statement. Without a statement verifying your financial situation, the IRS will not even consider a settlement. If you don’t want the IRS to know about certain assets, don’t furnish the financial statement, it is better to offer no statement than offer one that is misleading or fraudulent.

If the IRS already knows about all of your assets, and there is no disadvantage in providing a financial statement, then go ahead and submit the statement. The IRS will be interested in knowing how much money you receive each month, and how and where it is being spent. When you complete the personal living expense portion of the form, it is generally a good idea to arrange for some money to be left over each month to pay taxes. The IRS is more inclined to go along with a partial payment offer if it feels confident there is money available to make the agreement work.

If you have no assets and no income, there is nothing the IRS can levy. If you are in this predicament, the agency does provide an opportunity to discuss an “offer in compromise,” which is a little publicized procedure where the IRS will accept a one-time payment of as little as 10 cents for each $1 owed.

If IRS officials think they will receive more money from you in the long run by entering into an offer in compromise than a collateral agreement, (an agreement whereby you agree to pay a certain percentage of your income for five to 10 years), it may agree to the compromise.

The best chance of successfully agreeing to an offer in compromise is when the tax debt has been on the books for a number of years. The IRS must be convinced that conventional collection procedures will not work, so don’t expect a relatively-recent tax obligation to be settled this way.

However, if the IRS has had a chance to collect and has not succeeded, it is likely to accept your compromise offer.

What Records Every Taxpayer Needs to Keep

By Bonnie Lee
Published May 05, 2011,

If you filed your taxes on time this year, it’s time to put away your tax file.

And while you may be looking at the cartons of tax records sitting in the garage and wondering if you can shred some of them, we live in an age of complexity so the answer is: it depends.

The IRS states that you must retain your tax returns for a minimum of three years, which is generally how long it has to audit a tax return. However, three years may not be long enough if you live in a state that levies an income tax. The window of opportunity for audit in most states is four years, so save your tax returns and all the supporting documents to prove your income and deductions for at least that length of time. This includes every bank statement for all your accounts.

The audit clock starts ticking after you file the tax return. For example, you may have filed your 2010 income tax return on April 18, 2011. You should keep a copy until 2014 to make the IRS happy and 2015 to keep the state happy. After that, you can destroy the file.

But wait…don’t roll out the shredder just yet.

The IRS says that if you underreported your income by 25% of the gross income shown on your tax return, you should keep that tax return for six years. It also says that if you have filed a fraudulent tax return you need to keep it forever (no joke). Perhaps you should have it mounted and framed.

But there are other reasons to keep a tax return and other supporting documentation including:

1. If you have a capital loss carry forward, you should keep the tax return on which the original loss was reported. Also keep the documentation that supports the original loss. Keep these documents up to four years after the loss has been used up.

2. If you sold rental real estate via a 1031 exchange you need to keep the tax returns and supporting documents until four years after the disposition of the final property in the exchange sequence.

3. If you sold your previous home before May 7, 1997, and deferred tax on the gain from the sale (rolled it into the basis of your new home) you should keep indefinitely, those escrow closing papers and a copy of IRS Form 2119, which establishes the basis of your new home.

4. If you have passive loss carry forwards, credit carry forwards, net operating loss carry forwards, – or any other type of carry forward, you will need to retain the tax return where the carry forward originated.

Other documents to keep:

1. Receipts for all major improvements made to your home for four years after the sale of your home. The cost of capital improvements is added to the basis of your home when determining if there is a taxable gain upon sale. Especially maintain records proving certification of any energy-efficient products for which you took an energy tax credit.

2. IRA contribution statements Form 5498, Form 1099-R, and IRS Form 8606, should be kept until you take the last distribution from your IRA.

3. Physician’s statement(s) stating you were permanently and totally disabled on the date of your retirement if you are taking the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

4. Keep the last paystub of the year. Union dues, health insurance premiums, charitable contributions withheld from your pay may be deductible and in the event of audit you may need proof of payment.

5. Photographs may be an element necessary to your tax file to help prove certain deductions such as home office or casualty or theft losses.

You may need to keep records even longer for nontax purposes. Your creditors or insurance company may need the data supplied on certain transaction receipts. For example, you purchased the Hope diamond at auction. If it is stolen from you 10 years later, you may need the receipt to prove to the insurance company how much you paid for it.

For more information on record keeping, refer to IRS Publication 552.