DOJ Singles Out Tax Cheats in a Pay-or-Else Warning to Taxpayers

Susan Jones | April 14, 2015 | 5:26am EDT
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The DOJ warning comes after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted that the IRS will be conducting fewer audits this year.

( - The U.S. Justice Department issued a stern reminder on Monday that when it comes to income taxes, "no one is above the law or below the radar."

"With the annual tax filing deadline approaching on Wednesday, April 15, the Justice Department’s Tax Division reminds U.S. taxpayers across the country and around the world of their obligation to file timely and accurate income tax returns," the news release said.

And to reinforce that message, the DOJ news release listed 23 cases where the government successfully prosecuted tax cheats.

In one case, a California man was sent to prison for 55 months for selling fraudulent tax products; other cases involved the under-or concealing of income, the skimming of cash receipts, failure to pay tax due, filing false returns, and transferring assets to avoid taxes.

The people named in those 23 cases include tow-truck drivers, physicians, pizza shop and restaurant owners, attorneys and others.

“As U.S. taxpayers, we enjoy many benefits, including the security provided by our U.S. military, the ability to travel on public roads and highways, and the beauty and enjoyment of national parks and monuments,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Tax Division.  

“Those individuals who choose to accept these benefits and yet turn a blind eye to their federal tax obligations by failing to file required returns, filing false and fraudulent returns, and evading the assessment and payment of tax due will be pursued for their criminal conduct. No one is above the law or below the radar.”

The DOJ pay-or-else reminder comes amid warnings from the Internal Revenue Service that both enforcement and taxpayer services will suffer this year because of IRS budget cuts, staffing reductions, an expanding taxpayer base and an expanded mission for the IRS, which must now deal with the tax-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

In remarks at the Brookings Institution on April 8, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted that the IRS will be conducting fewer audits:

"The problem is that our levels of staffing are insufficient to deliver on our mission," Koskinen said. "Consider that the 13,000 employees we've lost since 2010 include 5,000 key enforcement personnel. These are the people who audit returns, conduct election activities, and include the special agents in our criminal investigation division, who investigate refund fraud and other cases.

"We estimate the drop in audit and collection case closures this year will translate into a loss for the government of at least $2 billion in revenue that otherwise would have been collected," Koskinen said.

"If people think they'll not get caught if they cheat, or they're just fed up because they can't get the help they need from us to file their taxes, the system will be put at risk."

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