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Sacramento Tax Law Blog

California Resident May Face Ten Years in Prison for Conspiring to File Fraudulent Tax Returns

On April 18, 2018, Ana Bajo, a California resident, pleaded guilty in the Northern District of California to conspiring to file fraudulent claims for more than $9.7 million in refunds by obtaining the personal information of others and filing more than 2,300 fraudulent income tax returns with her co-conspirators. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid over more than $7.5 million as a result of the scheme. Bajo now faces a maximum of ten years in prison, plus supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. Her sentencing is scheduled for September 26, 2018.

Former IRS Employee Sentenced to Prison Time and Restitution for Filing False Tax Returns

On March 5, 2018, a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee, Pamela Pringle, was sentenced in the Eastern District of California for "making opportunities for persons to defraud the United States and for making and subscribing false returns." While employed by the IRS, Pringle prepared and filed income tax returns for other individuals that included false deductions, and in several years she also filed fraudulent tax returns for herself, claiming deductions to which she was not entitled. Pringle entered a guilty plea in November 2017 and will spend 5 months in prison, then 36 months under supervised release, including 5 months of home confinement; she was also ordered to pay $56,857 in restitution.

Pilot Program to Fix Wage and Hour Problems

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently launched the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, which is designed to quickly resolve unintentional minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) without penalty to qualified participants. Workers will benefit by swiftly receiving back wages that are owed, and employers can get into compliance without paying penalties. Employers must act quickly, however, since the pilot program is scheduled to end in about six months.

DOJ Shuts Down Southern California Tax Return Preparer

The Department of Justice has permanently barred a Southern California tax preparer from preparing federal returns for others, following a complaint filed by the government that the tax professional had been filing returns claiming a total of more than $9 million in fraudulent refunds since at least 2009. She agreed to the injunction and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims, tax evasion, and aggravated identity theft.

Employment Tax Crimes Can Lead to Significant Prison Time

The Department of Justice recently reminded taxpayers that evading personal or business-related tax obligations can lead to "substantial fines and penalties, and even long prison sentences." Last month, the husband-and-wife owners of a Tennessee staffing company were sentenced to 75 months and one year, respectively, of prison time for failure to pay over $2.8 million in employment-related taxes and withholdings, and for filing false employment tax returns.

TIGTA Releases Interim Results for 2018 Filing Season

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report providing interim results for the 2018 federal tax filing season. As of March 2, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had received approximately 61 million tax returns and issued over 48 million refunds totaling almost $148 billion.

OTA Releases Inaugural Opinions on California Tax Matters

The new California Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) just released its first seven opinions. All seven opinions were decided in the favor of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB); none of the taxpayer-appellants opted for representation by an attorney, although three appellants were represented by an Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant. The first appeals heard by the OTA covered a variety of issues, including penalty and interest assessments, filing status, and ridesharing credits. Six of the opinions are confirmed as "nonprecedential," and one opinion is pending precedential status. To read the opinions in full, click here: https://ota.ca.gov/opinions/

IRS Updates Federal Withholding Calculator

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated its online withholding calculator to account for the changes to tax calculations caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Taxpayers are encouraged to use the updated calculator tool to ensure the correct amount is withheld from their paychecks.  To access the tool and additional information from the IRS, click here.

Remember to Report Your Virtual Currency Transactions!

Virtual currency transactions, such as the purchase or sale of Bitcoin, are reportable transactions on your federal income tax returns, as a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) press release states. Failure to report digital currency transactions can lead to audit and possible penalty or interest assessments. The IRS has issued Notice 2014-21 (here) to provide guidance for taxpayers and tax return preparers regarding such transactions. To read the full IRS press release on this topic, click here.

IRS Releases Complete "Dirty Dozen" List of Tax Scams for 2018

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released its top-12 list of tax scams to watch for in the current tax year, an annual list called the "Dirty Dozen." Topping the list in 2018 are the perennial telephone and phishing scams, identity theft, and return preparer fraud. Also included are acts such as falsely padding deductions, making improper claims for business credits, and falsifying income. For the complete list and information from the IRS on how to protect yourself from tax scams, click here.

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