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Fort Worth Tax Law Blog

Allegedly abusive tax preparers, part 2: making a strong defense

In part one of this post, we outlined efforts by the IRS to crack down on paid tax preparers whom the agency considers incompetent or deceitful.

The penalties that the IRS can seek against return preparers are both civil and criminal. But as we noted, the agency’s main enforcement program is run by the Criminal Investigation (CI) division of the IRS.

In this part of the post, we will discuss how to respond to allegations of abusive tax preparation practices.

Allegedly abusive tax return preparers, part 1: the IRS program

The sheer complexity of the U.S. tax code causes many taxpayers to seek assistance from a paid tax return preparer.

Most preparers do a creditable job. Many do outstanding work. But the IRS has long been concerned about incompetent or untrustworthy preparers. The concern is that such preparers can harm taxpayers and undermine the goal of voluntary tax compliance.

In this two-part post, we will discuss an IRS program intended to address this concern. This program is the Return Preparer Program (RPP).

The IRS whistleblower program, part 2: proposals for change

In part one of this post, we noted that criticism of the IRS's whistleblower program is heating up again. Not surprisingly, one of most vocal critics is long-time IRS gadfly Charles Grassley, a U.S. senator from Iowa.

In this part of the post, let's look in more detail at what Grassley and others contend are shortcomings in the program.

The IRS whistleblower program, part 1: the False Claims Act

The IRS has a program to reward those who blow the whistle on unpaid taxes by others. It offers financial incentives to disclose tax evasion, especially within large organizations.

For years, critics have contended that the program is not as effective as it should be. One such critic, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, has been particularly persistent and positively persnickety in his pronouncements about the program.

In part one of this two-part post, we will outline some of the basic features of the program. In part two, we will take note of the criticism the program has received and update you on proposals for change.

Employee classification: issue arises in a new business model

It’s been awhile since we last discussed the issue of worker classification on this blog. But the question of whether a worker is properly classified as an independent contractor – thus enabling the employer to avoid payroll taxes – remains a lively one in Texas and across the country.

In this post, we will take note of a recently proposed class action by independent contractors against a startup company that offers cleaning and home repair services on an on-demand basis. The case involves contentions that the startup company, called Handy, misclassified its workers.

Would-be slam dunk in offshore prosecution rejected at the rim

This is an update to a post we did earlier in the week on the trial of former Swiss banker whom U.S. authorities had charged with criminal conspiracy for allegedly helping Americans evade taxes on undisclosed foreign accounts.

As we noted in our November 3 post, Raoul Weil, a former UBS AG executive, is the top-ranking foreign individual to be criminally charged in the U.S. for his role in handling offshore accounts for Americans.

Many observers had expected federal prosecutors to get a conviction against Weil. Indeed, the case seemed to have many of the elements of a show trial for the Department of Justice (DOJ). It looked like a slam dunk.

Swiss Banks Struggle With Non-Prosecution Agreement

A little under a year ago there were more than 100 Swiss banks clawing their way into the U.S. Justice Department's no prosecution agreement. The deadline to sign up was New Years' Day 2014. Banks who were able to meet the deadline were guaranteed no conviction or closure, no disgrace, just a few penalties and a slap on the wrist. Fast forward 10 months, and now more than 70 of these banks are pushing back against the rigid deal, which includes a harsh non-prosecution agreement.

Ex-UBS Banker Testifies Against Former UBS Chief Executive

The former head of UBS AG (UBSN)'s global wealth-management business, Raoul Weil, referred to accounts hidden by U.S. clients from the Internal Revenue Service as "toxic waste," at his tax-conspiracy trial.

Pfizer Says Inversion Deal Is Still On the Table

While Pfizer Inc.'s CEO acknowledged Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury Department's recent crackdown on inversions has diminished the deal's appeal, the drug maker has yet to rule out an acquisition that would lower its tax bill.