by Brian Mahany
It’s January and tax season is in full swing. The IRS says that because of recent law changes, it can’t start processing certain returns until well into February. That fact has further elevated the stress levels of CPA’s and preparers. With any luck, however, by mid April all can head to Cancun, soak up the sun and drink exotic beverages with fruit and little paper umbrellas. This year, their ranks will be down slightly. The IRS has announced more convictions from last year’s Operation Brass Tax. (Yes, the name is corny.)
Last year the IRS criminally charged 26 preparers with fraud in an operation dubbed Operation Brass Tax. The IRS says it is the biggest takedown of corrupt tax payers in history. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Professional tax preparers are supposed to be gatekeepers, not facilitators of fraud.”
The government says undercover special agents posing as customers sought “help” to lower their tax bill. While most tax preparers understand the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion, these 26 did not.
What did they do?
Prosecutors say the 26 did such things as “create” fake dependents for a fee of $400, steal identities of children and families receiving public assistance, used social security numbers of people who died or are from Puerto Rico, created fictitious businesses with phony losses and inflated legitimate deductions.
The 26 were all from the New York area but the problem is not limited to any one city or place. In Wisconsin, Prince F. Rashada remains a federal fugitive after being charged with preparing over 100 false tax returns in 2008.
Every year a few bad preparers surface. And every tax season, the IRS will crank up its public relations machine and start issuing press releases about tax payers and tax preparers who have strayed from the straight and narrow path.
Mahany & Ertl, LLC is a full service law firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We help people, businesses and accountants with a wide array of tax problems. From offers and compromise, to criminal investigations, audit defense, tax court litigation and collection representation, our Wisconsin tax lawyers can help. We understand that people make mistakes and know how correct problems before they become too big and unmanageable.
Attorney Brian Mahany is a former state revenue secretary, agent and prosecutor. For a no obligation, no nonsense evaluation of your tax problem, contact him at (414) 704-6731 (direct dial) or through the firm’s website, www.mahanyertl.com