From a July 20 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Investigation Highlights (that’s really what they call it, “highlights”), some don’t dos:
If you work for the IRS, don’t give a taxpayer a break on the audit of his medical marijuana business, tell the taxpayer you want him to pay your student loans, then accept cash payments totaling $20,000 from the taxpayer instead.
If you work for the IRS, don’t tell a taxpayer that he owes $758,846 in back taxes, report to the IRS that the amount of back taxes owed is $282,363, set up a bank account in the name of “dba U. S. Treasury and Accounting Service,” then tell the taxpayer to wire $758,846 to that account. See what the IRS employee was doing there?
If you work for the IRS, or even if you don’t, don’t file a tax return claiming as dependents (1) a person who isn’t related to you and who paid rent to live in your house, and (2) a person who isn’t related to you who didn’t live with you at all. Then don’t make it worse by helping other individuals to file tax returns with similar bogus dependent claims, along with bogus claims for the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.
Don’t do any of those things, or you’re likely to wind up being sentenced to a term of incarceration by a federal judge.
It can’t be repeated too often, it seems: don’t give out your valuable personal information unless you (1) initiated the contact and (2) trust the person to whom you are giving the information. Never, under any circumstances, give personal information to someone who calls you unsolicited that says they are from the IRS or any other government agency. Chances are they are trying to scam you. No, I’ll go further than that: they are undoubtedly trying to scam you.
Please read all about it in my July, 2016, Estate Planning Law Report, posted in the publications section at deconcinimcdonald.com. Then spread the word. If enough people are alerted to the fact that the people making these calls are thieves, maybe they will stop, because no one will fall for their lies.
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I meant to link to this sooner but it got away from me. The Antiplanner has a post on the Cato blog explaining some of the details, and giving some important context, about that crash of a Tesla car a few weeks back. The most important takeaway is that the Tesla was not a “self-driving” car like the ones being developed by Google and others.
JUST BECAUSE A MUSIC PERFORMER SAYS “I DIDN’T GIVE THEM PERMISSION TO USE THAT RECORDING” DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE USE WAS UNAUTHORIZED
Every now and then there will be an item in the news about this or that popular music performer complaining about a recording that he or she made being used at some public event promoting someone or something (usually a political candidate or cause) with which the performer doesn’t want to be associated. Usually the performer says something about the candidate or cause using the recording without the performer’s permission. It always sounds very simple: that recording belongs to the performer and no one should be able to use it without his or her permission, right?
What the performer undoubtedly knows, but never mentions, is that it’s not that simple. I can’t quantify it, but in probably the vast majority of such events, the performer does not have the right to control the use of “their” recording. That right is probably owned by someone else: the record company, the publisher of the music, or another third party who acquired it from the record company or publisher. The performer may be entitled to collect royalties from the public use of the recording, but that doesn’t mean that the performer has any say in who uses the recording.
There are likely some occasions where organizations staging public events use popular recordings without obtaining permission, but I doubt that it happens very often at an event as big as a national political convention or a major rally for a national political candidate. I’ll bet that the organizers of those events have almost always obtained permission from whoever owns the right to public use of the recording. The performer isn’t involved, because the performer doesn’t own that right.
Frankly, when performers complain about “their” recording being played without their permission, I suspect they are being disingenuous. The performers want to make sure everyone knows that they disagree with the candidate or cause. If they make it sound like the candidate or cause did something wrong, that gets more attention, and furthers their agenda because it discredits the candidate or cause. So the performers announce that they didn’t give permission for the use of the recording, but don’t mention the fact that such permission was not theirs to give.
KEEP STAYING AWAY FROM THOSE TELEPHONE CALLERS ASKING FOR VALUABLE INFORMATION, BUT IF YOU HAVE UNUSED GIFT CARDS, CHECK THIS OUT
A headline in the Arizona Daily Star yesterday read: “Think twice before using your house as ATM, experts in Tucson advise.” Solid advice, but so banal you have to ask: are there really a lot of people who have enough equity in their homes today to borrow large sums? And who would think borrowing money against your house to be repaid over 30 years, to buy a car that has a useful life of no more than one-third that long, is anything approaching a good idea? If you take the Star article at face value, however, there are people who are doing just that.
The larger question is: didn’t anybody learn anything from what happened less than ten years ago, when there was tremendous borrowing amid a big run-up in real estate values, followed by a steep decline in values?
I wrote last summer about the idea that for the common good, we should do without air conditioning. In a USA Today column, the Instapundit proffers some similar ideas for reducing energy consumption and emissions.
As I asked last summer, why don’t the people who think air conditioning is wasteful ever make the same suggestion about the use of heating in cold climates?
IS THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT A THREAT TO THE VIABILITY OF INFORMATIONAL COMMERCIAL CONTENT ONLINE?
It sure sounds like the Americans With Disabilities Act could be a threat to the viability of informational commercial web sites, like this one. Walter Olson has a brief explanation posted at the Cato Institute blog.
Have you received a recorded call in which the caller says they are calling on behalf of “Internal Revenue Services?” I have received such calls several times recently. I didn’t answer the calls, but I let my answering machine record them, then listened to them. The call was essentially the same each time.
Even though I knew immediately upon listening to the first call that it was a hoax, it still disturbed me. First, the voice and the quality of the recording were extraordinarily creepy. Second, partly because I knew immediately that it was a scam, I was appalled by the brazenness of the fraud these callers are attempting to perpetrate.
I’ll explain. I can’t recite the script of the call, but I don’t think they ever actually say that you owe the IRS money. The caller starts off by saying that a lawsuit has been filed against you and that law enforcement personnel are on the way to your home, right now, to arrest you. You are then told that you must return the call immediately. The caller doesn’t say what will happen when you return the call, but I can tell you with absolute certainty: you will be asked to give your social security number, credit card number, bank account information, and whatever other valuable information the scammers can get out of you, so that they can steal your identity, steal from your credit card, steal from your bank account, and steal from you in any other way possible.
Stop and think about this scenario for a second and I’m sure you will appreciate how brazen these thieves are. First, don’t you think they’d be able to get the name of the agency right? When did anyone refer to the IRS as “Internal Revenue Services?” I distinctly remember that they said “services,” plural. That’s a detail that’s not going to get past me.
Second, if you owed the IRS money, they wouldn’t be calling you on the phone to tell you they filed a lawsuit against you. You would get written notice of the debt long before any legal action was taken. Then, if they did file a lawsuit against you, they would send a process server to your door, and they wouldn’t call you to tell you the process server is coming.
Even if you were being charged with a crime relating to taxes you owe, you wouldn’t be getting a recorded phone call about it. The United States Attorney would get an indictment and send the marshal to arrest you, and I don’t think they would call to tell you the marshal is on the way. You would probably know that you were under investigation, however, long before the marshal came knocking to arrest you.
Now maybe if you knew that you actually were under investigation, this call might sound real enough to scare you. More likely, however, these thieves are hoping that the person receiving the call will be too uninformed or unaware to recognize it as a hoax, such as recent immigrants, the elderly, and others who are particularly vulnerable. That’s what makes it so disgusting.
For my earlier post on a similar phone call scam, go to this link.
He didn’t describe being a tax lawyer as exciting, exactly, nor did he say that tax lawyers are exciting, but Professor Caron of the TaxProf Blog did say: "There has never been a more exciting time to be a tax lawyer."
Who am I to disagree?
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.