Madoff’s Unnecessary Tax Payments

We often hear about people trying to get out of paying taxes that they are legally obligated to pay. I blog about tax crimes all the time. But seldom do we hear about somebody paying taxes that are not owed as part of their fraudulent scheme.

Bernie Madoff went to great lengths to ensure that his fraud would not be exposed. He and his firm paid some $326 million in taxes on behalf of foreign investors in connection with the sale of securities. The only problem is Madoff’s firm never purchased or sold any securities on behalf of foreign investors.

Legitimate firms pay taxes. This much Madoff understood. Perhaps Madoff was thinking that by paying as much as he did, it would eliminate any doubt about the legitimacy of his operations.

I believe that the payments made to the IRS falsely identified the funds as income tax withholding in order to give the investment advisory arm of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) an air of legitimacy and to avoid inquiries . . .

~ Irving Picard, trustee acting on behalf of Madoff’s victims

Picard struck a deal with the IRS today whereby the IRS would refund the $326 million. This will help offset some small fraction of the losses suffered by Madoff’s victims.

IRS Accelerates Detection of Fraudulent Refund Returns

Pursuant to its 2011 audit plan, TIGTA conducted its annual audit of IRS activities during the 2011 filing season. The purpose of the audit was to evaluate whether the IRS timely and accurately processed individual paper and electronically filed tax returns. The final report is dated September 28th, but was just released to the public on November 1st.

One of the highlights of this report was the dramatic increase in fraudulent refund returns. As of April 30, 2011 the IRS had identified 775,723 fraudulent refund returns — $4.6 billion worth — compared to 286,670 identified by the same time last year (a 171% increase). Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that the IRS, through its screening efforts, detected 96% of them, therefore, no refund was issued.

The IRS is clearly increasing its efforts in this area. It is even beefing up its screening of prisoner tax returns, which are often fraudulent. As of April 30, 2011, the IRS reported that it had selected 199,854 tax returns filed by prisoners for screening (a 256% increased compared with the 2010 filing season).

Read full report here.

Huge Tax Fraud Scheme Uncovered in So-Cal

Just when I said that multiple-filers were a thing of the past, something very similar turns up in the news . . .

Who: Owners and others affiliated with Old Quest Foundation, Inc. and De la Fuente and Ramirez and Associates (55 indicted in all)

Where: Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga (San Bernardino County)

What: Most of the 55 indictments alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States

How: These groups arranged meetings during which they convinced taxpayers to buy into a scheme that involved claiming refunds to which they were supposedly entitled from a “secret government account.” Many of the people who were duped were required to pay fees to participate in the meetings, even bigger fees to sign up in the program, and then also a cut of the amount obtained from the false refund returns.

How Much: $5 million in refund checks were issued in error. The total dollar amount placed on this scheme is $250 million.

Common tax protestor arguments are listed here on the IRS website.

If you would like further guidance on what kinds of arguments are legitimate and what kinds of arguments might land you in prison, feel free to contact Montgomery & Wetenkamp: