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TheStreet Open House

Tax Scams and How the IRS Caught Scofflaws

Kahre claimed to pay the employees in gold and silver coins, but those coins were actually immediately exchanged for pre-determined envelopes of cash. The value of the coins was one-eighth the amount of what the employees received in the cash envelope. The recipients were alternately told either that the income was not taxable or they should report their income to the IRS only as the face amount of the gold and silver coins. No federal tax withholdings were made from the paychecks, and the wages were not reported to the IRS.

Doctors

In 2009, the IRS opened 104 investigations into cases of fraud by doctors, dentists and chiropractors. Of these, 69 led to jail time.

In June, two New Jersey men were sentenced for tax evasion and conspiring to violate the federal anti-kickback statute by agreeing to pay doctors to refer blood work to a Pennsylvania-based lab they operated. Asim Niaz and Taquir Khan were each sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

In connection with the case, a medical group, Mercerville Medical Associates, pleaded guilty to obstructing a health-care fraud investigation. Three of MMA's doctors faced tax-evasion charges in connection with the kickback scheme.

Real Estate

As might be expected given the erratic housing market, the IRS has identified an increase in frauds in the real-estate sector. In 2009, the IRS initiated 336 real-estate-related investigations. Of them, 184 have already led to convictions with 135 jail sentences

On Feb. 17, Los Angeles-area realtor Martha Rodriguez was sentenced to 120 months in prison for orchestrating a scheme that falsely promised to help homeowners in default on their mortgages. Instead, it led directly to nearly $13 million in financial losses.

Instead of obtaining refinancing, she and her associates submitted loan applications in the names of "straw buyers" who were purportedly buying the properties. Some of these buyers were identity-theft victims.

The loan applications for these buyers, which contained false information, caused a series of lenders to fund more than 100 mortgages worth more than $40 million. The loan proceeds were used to pay off the loans in default, sometimes to make a few mortgage payments on the new loans and to provide some instant cash to homeowners. The remaining proceeds, typically representing the bulk of a homeowner's equity, were skimmed off by Rodriguez and her co-conspirators.

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