A Californian pleaded guilty this week before the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, to willfully failing to disclose over $1 million held in offshore bank accounts. He and the bank also took other steps to hide and secretly access his funds. The man now faces up to five years in prison, supervised release, restitution, and other monetary penalties.
The Department of Justice recently imposed another $5.3 million penalty on Bank Lombard Odier & Co., Ltd., a Swiss bank that has already paid over $99 million for offering offshore banking services to U.S. taxpayers without disclosing their transactions. Since Bank Lombard signed its first non-prosecution agreement in 2015, it has acquired 88 additional accounts, again without disclosing them as required.
A taxpayer recently found out the hard way that if something sounds too good to be true, get a second opinion. His San Francisco-based CPA helped him prepare and file tax returns that failed to report over $18 million in income between December 2007 and September 2013, which resulted in $4.7 million of unpaid tax liabilities. In this case, both the taxpayer and his CPA were indicted; the taxpayer entered into a plea agreement and the tax preparer took his chances --- he lost.
NPB Neue Privat Bank, a Swiss private bank based in Zurich, and the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division signed a non-prosecution agreement on July 18, 2018, by which NPB will pay a $5 million penalty for aiding U.S. taxpayers in opening accounts to conceal assets and income from the U.S. government. Between August 2008 and December 2015, NPB managed approximately $400 million annually in both declared and undeclared assets. The bank failed to disclose the identities of American clients to the Internal Revenue Service after entering into a Qualified Intermediary Agreement in 2001 whereby it was to report U.S. securities transactions to the IRS on Forms 1099 and obtain Forms W-9 from new and existing U.S. clients to help verify their tax compliance.
What do a U.S. Senator, the owner of an Albanian brokerage firm, an attorney who is a dual citizen of America and Israel, and a group of current and former U.S. citizen now living in Canada, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic all have in common? They have been denied review by the U.S. Supreme Court in their jointly failed attempt to enjoin the enforcement of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), certain intergovernmental agreements (IGAs), and the foreign bank account reporting (FBAR) penalty.
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.
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.
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.
On October 6, 2017, Shiv D. Kumar, the sole shareholder of a California transportation company that serves disabled individuals, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for filing false corporate returns. The Department of Justice found that Kumar provided his accountant with false books and records, leading to the underreporting of the business' income to the IRS by over $2 million per year in 2009 and 2010.
No one is beyond the certainty of taxes, as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, discovered last week. Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for taking cash and checks donated to the Diocese by parishioners and depositing them into his personal bank account to pay for personal expenses. The court found that the priest embezzled a total of $1.4 million from the Catholic Church and, by concealing the embezzlement from his return preparer, evaded over $500,000 in income taxes owed to the IRS.