Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Schemes and Scheming

Between October 2010 and September 2012 the seven men, including Faraday, piggy-backed genuine cage fighting events, produced phoney promotional material and used the names of well-known fighters to enhance the authenticity of their companies. Anthony Swarbrick, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“This was a fraud driven purely by greed with the single aim of extorting money which should have been spent on vital public services. This whole set up was a ruse with the sole purpose of stealing from the taxpayer. Gang and martial arts tax  Fraud

The problem is two-fold. On one side, better systems of identification are necessary, and need to be based on information that is not as easily stolen. Databases need to be secured more carefully than at present. On the other side, identity thieves and those thinking of engaging in that behavior need to be presented with changes in their risk analysis. Not only are better methods required to track them down, they also need to face more severe consequences for their behavior.
I think the penalties in place are already severe enough. The problem is that it is too easy to steal tax refunds. The grifters that go in for identity theft aren’t known for impulse control or careful weighing of benefits and costs. They just know that with the right personal information and a copy of Turbotax, they can make prepaid debit cards rain on their mailboxes. And, of course, the overseas crime syndicates don’t care about the penalties, because they are unlikely to ever face them.
It’s much more important to improve IRS procedures to thwart I.D. theft in the first place. The IRS is finally taking needed steps here, but lots of horses are already out of the barn.
To combat abusive tax shelters, the Department of the Treasury promulgated a general anti-abuse regulation applicable to all of subchapter K of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The Treasury targeted subchapter K because unique aspects of the partnership tax laws - including its aggregate-entity dichotomy - foster creative tax manipulation. In the anti-abuse regulation, the Treasury attempted to “codify” existing judicially-created anti-abuse doctrines, such as the business-purpose and economic-substance doctrines. Also, and more surprisingly, the Treasury directed those applying subchapter K to use a purposivist approach to interpretation and to reject textualism.