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Tax Enforcement Actions

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the United States agency with primary responsibility for enforcing federal tax laws, working with the Department of Justice. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the federal tax laws can submit a claim to the IRS under the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program, and may be eligible to receive a monetary reward.

Below are summaries of recently-announced settlements or successful prosecutions by the IRS or DOJ. If you believe you have information about fraud or wrongful conduct which could give  rise to a claim under the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

December 20, 2021

James Tarpey, an attorney and principal in Project Philanthropy Inc. dba Donate for Cause (DFC), has been ordered to pay $8.5 million in penalties for promoting a tax shelter with claims that timeshare owners could donate their unwanted timeshare interests to DFC and receive tax benefits in return.  Tarpey and his agents prepared appraisals on donated timeshares, despite lacking sufficient independence and knowing that his false appraisals resulted in tax avoidance.  DOJ

December 13, 2021

Following his conviction at trial on tax fraud charges, John Barry Jr. was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution.  According to evidence at trial, Barry promoted a “mortgage recovery” tax scheme, telling clients that they could extinguish mortgage debts by filing false forms with the IRS claiming that a large amount of taxes had been withheld.  These false withholding claims caused the IRS to issue more than $4 million in refunds to Barry’s clients; Barry typically charged each client a fee of between 20% to 35% of the refund obtained.  DOJ

August 27, 2021

Prithviraj “Roger” Bhikha, a former Senior Director of Global Supplier Management at Cisco Systems, Inc. was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million to the IRS following his guilty plea on charges arising from his receipt of kickbacks from Cisco vendors, his creation of a front company that billed $10 million in services to Cisco while concealing his role, and his failure to report more than $9 million in income to the IRS.  Bhikha was also ordered to pay $1.15 million to Cisco, and forfeited to pieces of real estate in San Francisco.  IRS; USAO ND Cal

August 6, 2021

Chandra Yarlagadda, who owned and operated biodiesel supplier Alpha Bioenergy LLC, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $3.3 million following his guilty plea to income tax evasion charges.  Yarlagadda, who reported income and expenses associated with Alpha Bioenergy on Schedules C attached to his personal income tax returns, admitted that over the course of three years he reported that the company incurred expenses totaling more than $14.2 million for the purchase and retirement of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) used by the EPA, when, in fact, he had incurred only $80,000 in RIN expenses during those years.  Without the inflated deduction claims, Yarlagadda would have owed an additional $2.3 million in federal income taxes.  DOJ

August 3, 2021

Bermuda bank Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited will pay $5.6 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve charges that between 2001 and 2013 it assisted U.S.-taxpayer clients in opening and maintaining undeclared foreign bank accounts.  The bank has provided the government with approximately 386 unredacted client files.  USAO SDNY; IRS

July 13, 2021

Joel Jerome Tucker, the principal in payday loan business eData Solutions, LLC and related entities, was ordered to pay $8.1 million in restitution to the IRS and sentenced to 12.5 years in prison following his conviction on charges related to his fraudulent sale of non-existent payday loan portfolios and the failure by him and his companies to file federal income tax returns or pay taxes.  Tucker used nominee bank accounts to conceal income and assets and owed taxes, penalties, and interest of more than $12 million.  In addition, in 2020, Tucker fraudulently obtained a $20,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan.  USAO WD MO

May 14, 2021

Dusko Bruer, who owned and operated an agricultural machinery company, was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution following his conviction on tax evasion charges.  Between 2003 and 2009, Bruer's company did not file or pay either corporate or employment taxes.  Bruer was not paid a salary; instead, he used funds from corporate bank accounts for personal expenses.  Bruer also failed to report foreign bank accounts that he owned and controlled, and to which he transferred millions of dollars between at last 2006 and 2015.   DOJ

May 14, 2021

Swiss insurance company Swiss Life Holding AG and related entities will pay $77 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement admitting that they conspired with U.S. taxpayers to  conceal more than $1.452 billion in assets and income in offshore insurance policies and related policy investment accounts.  From 2005 to 2014, Swiss Life maintained approximately 1,608 Private Placement Life Insurance policies known as “insurance wrappers,” with associated policy investment accounts with Swiss Life entities identified as the owner, allowing U.S. taxpayers to hide undeclared assets and income and evade taxes.  Beginning in 2008, Swiss Life specifically marketed such policies to taxpayers withdrawing assets from UBS and other Swiss banks in response to offshore tax enforcement efforts aimed at those bank.  DOJ; USAO SDNY

May 6, 2021

Spirits, beer, and wine produce the LeVecke Corporation agreed to pay almost $29 million in compromise of claims by the Department of Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau alleging violations of the Internal Revenue Code, including failure to timely file tax returns and failure to timely file and/or pay excise tax. TTB

March 16, 2021

Southern California brewer Stone Brewing Co., LLC, will pay $1.8 million to resolve allegations that the brewery underpaid excise taxes by misapplying tax rates, and failed to timely file excise tax returns and related operational reports. TTB
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