Why should a taxpayer use the services of a forensic accountant when being audited or under criminal investigation? Tracy Coenen talks about the expertise a forensic accountant can bring to the case, specifically in evaluating the methods used by the IRS for determining income.
In 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.
Last week I presented a webcast for Securities Docket, Follow the Money – Using Technology to Find Fraud or Defend Financial Investigations. In this presentation geared toward attorneys, I gave an overview of some of the technology tools I’m currently using in my practice to provide better, faster financial investigations.
We looked at the process I’m using, as well as some of the results I’ve gotten for clients. This process is ideal for attorneys working on cases involving securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, white collar crime, divorce, tax fraud, and corporate fraud. The archived version of the webcast is available for viewing below.
I wrote a couple of posts on some common IRS audit red flags shortly after tax season ended and never finished the list. So here are a few more items that might cause the IRS to want to look at your tax returns a little more closely.
Ever met anyone who thought he didn’t have to pay income taxes? Maybe he tried to argue taxes are unconstitutional and there are legitimate ways to avoid paying them. Don’t believe it. Wesley Snipes believed it, and found himself in quite a bit of legal trouble. He’s been acquitted of the most serious criminal charges, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have to pay his taxes. The IRS still intends to go after him for income taxes on tens of millions of dollars, and the interest and penalties associated with those taxes won’t be cheap.
This week brings news that Nicholas Cage is joining the ranks of famous tax cheats. The IRS alleges he used his business, Saturn Productions, to write off $3.3 million in personal expenses (all those jet trips and limos) and says he owes $814,000 in taxes and penalties. Cage argues the expenses are all security needs.
The tax world had its eyes on Wesley Snipes last week, who was on trial for tax evasion. I hate cases like this. Snipes didn’t report income of tens of millions of dollars and didn’t pay taxes on it. The rest of us pay our taxes, and most of us aren’t as well-to-do as Snipes. But we do it because it’s the law and it’s the right thing to do (no matter how much we hate it).
Yet Snipes gets mostly off the hook last week. He’s all kinds of happy because he was acquitted of felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. But he was convicted of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file tax returns. OOOOOH.
His attorney said Snipes didn’t commit fraud.. that he “had no bad intent.” Really? Well what do you call it when you fail to report $38 million in income? From 1999 through 2004, he didn’t file taxes and was involved with a group (American Rights Litigators) known for selling people tax advice that amounted to fraudulent schemes to avoid paying taxes.
No, it’s not a joke.
Stephen Yagman, a high-profile lawyer who was involved in numerous cases against police thinks that he shouldn’t go to prison for his convictions on tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. He says that would be too harsh a punishment, and he also says he will be in physical danger in prison because of all the work he did examining claims of excessive force by police for the Christopher Commission.
It’s not often that a Milwaukee lawyer is hired to represent a Hollywood actor, so I have to mention this one. Wesley Snipes has fired Billy Martin, and hired Robert Bernhoft of The Bernhoft Law Firm. Bernhoft represented Snipes previously in a paternity suit, and is now on board to help defend against tax fraud allegations.
Snipes was in a bit of trouble though, because his tax fraud trial was set to start next week in Florida. The judge wasn’t too happy that he fired his lawyer and got a new one, and then asked for the trial to be continued. The judge thought it was all a ploy to delay the trial.
Last week, the U.S. Atorney’s office unsealed an indictment of Ernst & Young tax partners. The indictment alleges that Robert Coplan, Martin Nissenbaum, Richard Shapiro, and Brian Vaughn created and marketed tax shelters which were fraudulent, for use by individuals with taxable income in excess of $10 or $20 million. The tax shelters were created to improperly eliminate or reduce taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service.
The eight counts in the indictment include: conspiracy to defraud the IRS, tax evasion, making false statements to the IRS, and impeding and impairing the lawful functioning of the IRS.
The E&Y partners were part of a tax shelter development group first called VIPER (Value Ideas Produce Extraordinary Results) and then called SISG (Strategic Individual Solutions Group. It is alleged that the conspirators deceived the IRS about the true facts of the tax shelters, and that they knew discovery of the true facts by the IRS would result in the collection of unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties.