Articles Tagged with tax fraud

It was recently reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) is currently under criminal investigation by the federal Department of Justice for allegedly misspending tens of thousands in campaign funds. According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, Rep. Hunter may have appropriated the money from his congressional campaign committee for personal use to pay for family travel, tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other personal expenses. The Committee on Ethics then deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department.

At a town hall in Ramona, California, Hunter was asked about his alleged personal use of campaign funds. In response, the congressman said his campaign had made a “mistake” and that the funds had been paid back. He has reimbursed his campaign fund approximately $62,000.

As of March 23rd, Hunter has been under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice/ Federal Bureau of Investigation for the misspending. Federal election officials and the San Diego Union-Tribune have repeatedly raised questions over the last year about his unusual spending.  These spending issues reach back over a year, when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) first questioned Hunter for using campaign funds to pay for video games on 68 occasions.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group that filed the original ethics complaint against Hunter, said in a statement that “Hunter has shown a blatant disregard for the rules.” The FBI has looked at the financial dealings of more than a half dozen House members in the last decade.

Federal Campaign Rules

Political action committees or campaign committees are organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. They must register with the FEC within 10 days of formation and abide by disclosure rules and federal limits on contributions. Candidates are not allowed use the funds in these committees for personal use.

California Campaign Rules

California’s Political Reform Act was adopted as a statewide initiative (Proposition 9) by an overwhelming vote in 1974. The state has been a leader in promoting transparency in elections since. The law requires candidates and committees to file campaign statements disclosing contributions received and expenditures made. These documents are public and can be audited by the Fair Political Practices Commission  and Franchise Tax Board. However, the law only applies to state and local elections, and not federal (ie. Congressional ones).

Additionally many cities have adopted local ordinances on the city level that may also have additional regulations and restrictions. Continue reading

In the latest controversy surrounding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the New York Times reportedly published Trump’s tax documents without his permission. The story that ran concluded that Trump declared $916 million in losses in 1995. This amount is large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over a span of 18 years.

While Trump has obviously threatened legal action against the media outlet, legal experts are saying that there isno clear-cut criminal case against the newspaper. For one, it is not clear who leaked the information. The Times claims it received the documents anonymously in the mail. If this source was accurate, the Times should be protected on First Amendment grounds, since they did nothing illegal to obtain the information. Being a media outlet, the Times has a defense in that its job is to report on matters of public concern.

Trump has so far been the only presidential candidate that has refused to turn over his tax records. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has stated that Trump refuses to turn over his taxes because he has paid none. It is reported that he has stated “That just makes me smart.”  The Times presented the leaked documents to Jack Mitnick, who was Trump’s accountant for over 30 years. Now retired, he has verified that the documents appear to be authentic copies of portions of Trump’s returns.

Consequences of Tax Evasion in California

Tax evasion is considered a white collar crime, even if it seems as though many corporate conglomerates seem to get away with it. Tax evasion in California is a serious crime subject to serious penalties.

Under California Revenue and Taxation Code §19706, it is illegal for any person or employee of a corporation to: knowingly fail to file any tax return or falsify information to evade taxes, or to willfully and intentionally make false statements on a tax return. Underpaying taxes, which is still considered tax evasion also includes but is not limited to:

  • Not reporting all income earned;
  • Failing to file a tax return;
  • Lying or making false statements on a return;
  • Claiming to be a resident of another state to avoid California taxes.

Violation of the California tax code is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $20,000. Continue reading

The owners of Good Neighbor Services, an Orange County based janitorial company that provides cleaning services to luxury hotels across Southern California, have been indicted in a $7 million insurance fraud and tax evasion scheme that has allegedly lasted over 10 years.

Hyok “Steven” Kwon and Woo “Stephanie” Kwon, from Irvine California, are accused of working with six accomplices to vastly underreport the number of employees they employ to avoid taxes. It is reported the Kwons underreported their number of employees by 800 people, resulting in the avoidance of $3.6 million in workers’ compensation insurance rates and more than $3.3 million in payroll taxes. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called it the largest ever insurance premium fraud case in San Diego history.

During the course of the investigation, employees said they were paid with checks that carried the names of other businesses, even though they wore uniforms with the Good Neighbor Services logo. The DA’s investigation discovered the Kwons were using 12 different shell companies to defraud insurance providers and the state of California. They also claim they did not receive overtime pay or workers compensation benefits. Additionally, workers who were injured on the job were allegedly threatened with being fired.