Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, pleaded guilty on July 19, 2017, to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States as the head of a team of bankers for Credit Suisse AG between 2002 and 2011. She was responsible for the accounts of over 1,000 clients and handled approximately $400 million in assets. Her conduct led to an estimated U.S. tax loss of between $3.5 and $9.5 million. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for early September 2017; Rüegg Meier faces a maximum of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, and restitution penalties.
The IRS has begun releasing detailed notices on the top 12 most common tax scams taxpayers may encounter during the 2017 filing season. Included so far are:
The IRS Security Summit issued a warning to tax professionals about a new e-mail scam by cybercriminals posing as potential clients. Scammers are sending phishing e-mails in two parts, beginning with a standard solicitation for services followed by a second email with an embedded web address or PDF attachment with an embedded web address. When the tax professional thinks they are accessing a new client's tax information, in reality they are opening up their system for the scammer to collect personal information for illegitimate use.
The IRS and its Security Summit partners finalized plans on November 3, 2016, to improve identity theft protections in 2017 after the significant success of its 2016 program (and in spite of a growing number of scams). In the first nine months of the current year, identity theft victim claims dropped 50 percent, as compared to 2015. The number of fraudulent returns stopped by the IRS' tax processing systems increased, derailing 787,000 attempts at identity theft return filing, and stopping nearly $600 million more in fraudulent refunds from being paid out to scammers as compared to the previous year.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report that found nearly $9 billion in backup withholding tax was not withheld for 2013 information returns with missing or incorrect taxpayer identification numbers. The IRS should have received nearly $5 billion in backup withholding for payments to these unidentified payees, but payers withheld only $1 million.
Darryl Genis, a 60-year-old DUI attorney practicing in Santa Barbara County, California, pled guilty recently to three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns between 2009 and 2011, and admitted to willfully failing to pay taxes for the same years, totaling nearly $680,000. He also admitted to underpaying taxes for the years 2005 through 2012. Genis agreed to pay civil penalties for all years at issue, and he faces up to three years of imprisonment.
A self-employed chiropractor based in Hayward, California, was found liable for penalties for failure to file tax returns for eight years with the intent to conceal, mislead, or otherwise prevent the collection of tax. The original IRS investigation of Dr. Ramon Reynoso began in 2003. In April 2008, he pleaded guilty to criminal income tax evasion for only one tax year. Subsequently, the Commissioner issued notices of deficiency for tax years 1997 through 2004. Dr. Reynoso filed a Tax Court petition to dispute the penalties assessed for fraudulent failure to file, failure to timely pay, and failure to pay estimated taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released a YouTube video for tax professionals to learn about the increase in cybercriminal activity targeting tax-related businesses and their data, and steps professional can take to protect their clients from identity theft. This video is part of the ongoing Secuirty Summit efforts to educate the public and professionals about the recent growth in refund fraud, phishing, and other tax scams. To learn more, watch the YouTube video here.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a new warning for taxpayers about this year's unprecedented increase in attempted tax fraud. This summer has seen an increase in "robo-calls," where scammers leave threatening voicemail messages. When taxpayers call back, they are threatened with arrest, deportation, or revocation of their driver's license for non-payment.
The Security Summit, a partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and private-sector tax industry executives, met on June 28, 2016 to review its first-year successes and strategize for 2017. The Summit focused on improving authentication procedures, information sharing, cybersecurity, and public outreach to help keep taxpayers' data and money safe.