Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Booming Business of Tax Evasion

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Booming Business of Tax Evasion

Article excerpt

At least 152,000 Americans filed bogus tax returns last year claiming they owed no taxes, or even seeking money from the government, under a variety of tax evasion schemes marketed by promoters, the government disclosed in court papers filed in Florida.

The Internal Revenue Service also revealed that it has identified 1,500 businesses that have stopped withholding taxes from their employees' paychecks or have filed corporate tax returns showing zero income.

The IRS suggested that more businesses escape detection by the simple step of not filing a tax return.

In several hundred pages of affidavits, tax returns and other documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa, the Justice Department provided the most extensive picture yet of how much the government knows about the burgeoning business of tax evasion and how little it has done, or even can do, to stop it.

People who sell or promote tax evasion schemes have flourished since Congress passed the IRS Reform and Restructuring Act in 1998. That law, which its sponsors said was needed to protect innocent taxpayers from zealous IRS agents, has been embraced by sellers of tax evasion, who have found it is a powerful shield against prosecution or even civil action to halt their operations.

Many clients of these tax evasion schemes are wealthy Americans, including the actor Wesley Snipes. The court papers show that some of these promoters have become so bold that they remain in business even after the Justice Department sued them. Boasting of their success in their brochures, in lectures and on the Internet, they continued helping clients file false tax returns.

One of these tax cheats, a California businessman named Al Thompson, did spend two nights in the Shasta County jail in Redding, Calif., but his incarceration resulted from his refusal to cooperate with an audit by the state, not the IRS.

In Tampa, the papers filed on Tuesday supported a government request for an injunction to stop Douglas P. Rosile Sr. of Venice, Fla. …

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