Defending Tax Fraud Cases – Expert Financial Analysis Required

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Written by Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF

White collar government investigations almost always have one thing in common: They rely heavily on an analysis of financial information. This often includes going through banking documents with a fine tooth comb, and can also involve scrutinizing accounting records.

While the task of accumulating this data and examining it seems basic, there is much work involved, and expertise in financial and accounting crimes is necessary to fully understand the issues and the potential criminal or civil charges that the government brings against the company or individual. To properly defend such a case, it is necessary to have a financial investigator involved to help filter the data and the issues the government will raise. Continue reading

Calculating Income in Family Law Cases

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forensic-accountingThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, October 2013.

There are four widely recognized methods of calculating income in family law cases. These four methods have been developed for use by the Internal Revenue Service in calculating unreported income in tax cases, and are the primary ways a lifestyle analysis can be completed.

Specific Items Method
One of the most straightforward ways to complete a lifestyle analysis is through an analysis of specific items of income. This method is possible when there are substantial documents detailing cash inflows, and is considered a “direct method” of verifying income.

Income-related information is gathered from bank and brokerage statements, tax-related documents, and business records. Inflows are identified and summed, theoretically verifying the income disclosed in the family law case. This method is easy to understand and present, which makes it an attractive option for evaluating claimed income. The court will easily be able to understand how income was calculated. Continue reading

Scott London’s Other Crime: Tax Fraud

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Former KPMG audit Partner Scott I. London brought great shame to the accounting profession this week by being charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud through insider trading. After nearly 30 years with KPMG, London went down in flames after being caught passing insider information on audit clients of the Los Angeles office to his “friend,” Bryan Shaw.

Proving once again that there is no honor among thieves, Shaw got caught first, and then sold out his friend Scott to the Feds.  He helped them get a gorgeous trail of evidence, including phone calls and photographs of the crime.  Both are now charged with insider trading. Continue reading

Kwame Kilpatrick: Lifestyle Analysis in Criminal Cases

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kwame-kilpatrick-white-collar-crimeIn 2008, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged in state court with 8 felonies related to perjury, misconduct in office, and obstruction of justice. In On September 2008,he pleaded guilty to two felonies for obstruction of justice and was sentenced to four months in the Wayne County Jail and ordered to pay $1 million of restitution to the city of Detroit.

The fun didn’t stop there. Kilpatrick has been accused of hiding money that could be used to pay $855,000 restitution owed to the city of Detroit, stemming from the conviction. Despite claiming poverty and an inability to pay the restitution he owes, money has been magically appearing! Money was transferred to his wife, and Kwame  himself received $4,000 from a mystery source. None of these funds were disclosed to the state by Kilpatrick, despite being required to do so under the conditions of his probation. It is suspected that Kilpatrick has money hidden, and that is the source of the funds. Continue reading

Tax Fraud and Family Law

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If you’re a family law attorney practicing in Wisconsin, you might want to consider attending a State Bar of Wisconsin CLE seminar being presented by Gregg Herman and Al Dassow on January 11, 2013. They’re talking about Tax and Tax Fraud Issues in Family Law.

Gregg Herman has been practicing family law since I was a little kid (he’s going to hate me for saying that), and I’m fortunate to run into him in my office building from time to time. He has blogs on family law issues, and I urge you to take a peek at his blog and put it into your RSS reader so you can keep up with it. He has been blogging faithfully for the better part of a year (no small feat!) and I am looking forward to reading more. Continue reading

Do Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Better Forensic Accountants?

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Today Brian Willingham of the Diligentia Group has inspired me with his article Do Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Better Private Investigators? While Brian agrees that experience in law enforcement can be helpful to a private investigator, it does not necessarily make that investigator better. The same can be said for forensic accountants and fraud investigators: Law enforcement experience can be helpful, but it is not as important as you might believe.

Brian points us to a video that suggests that: Continue reading

Don’t Believe Tax Reduction Commercials

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You hear the commercials on television and radio almost daily: We can reduce your tax debt to pennies on the dollar.  The charlatans claim they can help get rid of your IRS debt and state income tax debt. Who they’re really helping is themselves…. to your wallet.

Probably the most well-known tax debt reduction professional was Roni Deutch, known as “The Tax Lady.”  Her firm purported to provide help to clients with Offer in Compromise needs, IRS installment agreements and Currently Not Collectible tax accounts. Unfortunately, it appears Roni took a lot of money from people and provided them little or no help in return. Continue reading

General Motors Will Never Repay Taxpayers

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Last week, Reason Magazine ran an excellent article entitled “General Motors Will Never Repay Taxpayers.” I don’t really have anything to add in the way of commentary, but wanted to reprint some of the information here for your enjoyment.

I was against any and all bailouts from the very beginning. I truly believed that the markets should be allowed to work. If one or more of the automakers had a business model that could not survive in today’s economic climate, than it should have been allowed to die. There would still be demand for cars that would need to be made up somewhere, and another car company would have filled that need (at little or no cost to the taxpayers). Continue reading

Big Name Tax Preparation Services are a Waste of Money

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You need your personal taxes done and they’re not that complex, so you think you’ll just run right over to H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax Service, or some other tax preparation franchise. It’s easy and they must be good or they wouldn’t have so many locations and be in business so long, right?

Wrong. The fact of the matter is that you’re taking a big risk if you have your taxes done at one of the large tax return sweatshops or a similar smaller service. These companies have a few major drawbacks that most consumers are unaware of: Continue reading

NOVA Benefit Plans: IRS Cracking Down on Welfare Benefit Plans

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My original article on Nova Benefit Plans and the IRS’s actions relating to welfare benefit plans it believes are abusive was posted on March 14, 2011. On April 14, 2011, I was contacted by a lawyer representing Dan Carpenter in connection with NOVA Benefit Plans and Benistar. He asked for changes to the article to clarify that all allegations made by the IRS against Nova and others were only allegations, and criminal activity had not been proven in a court of law. Those changes were made immediately to avoid any confusion.

On June 1, 2011, I was again contacted by the attorney representing Daniel Carpenter, this time threatening to sue me if I did not remove the article from my site.

The article in question was not defamatory. It simply discussed the allegations made by the IRS and the potential problems NOVA was facing, and quoted and linked to other articles on Nova and Benestar. Continue reading