Articles Tagged with IRS

Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. is a Chicago-based investor rights law firm that offers nationwide representation to investors who suffer investment losses as a result of unscrupulous, negligent, or fraudulent misconduct of financial advisors. In a tale as old as time, people prefer to avoid paying taxes if they can do so legally. The legality of tax breaks can be a touchy and constantly developing subject.  An increasingly popular way for very wealthy land owners to generate massive tax write-offs is called the “conservation easement.”  Simply put, in exchange for promising not to develop land, in the name of conservation, a land owner promises not to develop the tract. By doing so, the value of the property depreciates – because it cannot be developed – and theoretically, the owner of the land gives up something of value – the right to develop and exploit the land.  The land owner then gets a tax deduction, which depends on two critically important factors: 1) the value of the property before the easement; and 2) the value after the easement. The spread between these two numbers is then used as a tax deduction.

And there is where the fraud begins, according to the IRS. Recent report published by Bloombergtax describes the increasing aggression with which the IRS and Department of Justice are prosecuting conservation easement transactions as crimes.  One very notable transaction being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office involves former President, Donald Trump, and an approximate $25 million tax break he received in connection with a conservation easement on land he owned in upstate New York. The tax scam begins with the appraisal of the land at values exponentially higher than reality, to appraisals after the easement well-below reality.  That increases the spread – the tax loss – taken by the owner.  These appraisals are done by professional outfits with attorneys and appraisers who sign off on all of these deals, and who can find themselves in a serious lurch with authorities.

These conservation easements became increasingly complex over time, involving massive tracts of land and found themselves being marketed and sold by FINRA registered broker/dealers as Regulation D private placement investments.  The purpose of this scenario for investors is the tax break for the land owners trickles-down, through a series of complicated trusts and transactions, to the investor.  Sometimes investors get upwards of 10X their investment back in the form of a tax write off.  Usually, the write-off is for between 2X and 6X the investment. For example, if an investor puts $25K into a conservation easement offering 4X reduction, that investor can write-off $100,000 in income for tax purposes the next year.  For high income investors, that is a dream scenario.

According to a recent Disciplinary Proceeding with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Johnny Burris, while registered with Chase Investment Services, failed to execute a trade for his customers, a married elderly couple. The failed trade resulted in their IRS tax payment to be rejected for insufficient funds. Burris then created and sent unapproved misleading correspondence to the customers and the IRS. This is against securities rules and regulations. Burris was registered with BA Investment Services in Oakland, California from April 1997 until July 1999, Banc of America Investment Services in Boston, Massachusetts from July 1999 until October 1999, Investors Capital Corp in Sun City West, Arizona from January 2000 until December 2005, Chase Investment Services Corp in Sun City West from July 2010 until October 2012, JP Morgan Securities in Sun City West from October 2012 until December 2012, Oppenheimer & Co. in Scottsdale, Arizona from February 2013 until March 2014 and Southeast Investmnets in Charlotte, North Carolina from March 2014 until June 2015. He has three customer disputes against him. Please call our securities law firm today to find out how you might be able to sue Chase Investment Services for financial losses. The call is free with no obligation.

Stoltmann Law Offices continues to investigate Akron, Ohio-based KGTA Petroleum. On December 8th, 2014, criminal charges were brought against KGTA’s co-owner and operator, Kenneth A. Grant, who was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud and money laundering. The FBI, IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s Cleveland office continue to investigate the company and its owners after it was alleged that Grant defrauded more than 70 investors and received over $17 million from those investors. Recently, Jeffrey Gainer, Mark George and Thomas Abdallah, all co-conspirators in the scheme, pled guilty to the criminal matter.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently brought actions against Jeffrey Gainer, Jerry Cicolani and Kelly Hood, all brokers who allegedly made recommendations to their clients to invest in KGTA Petroleum between October 2012 and February 2014. KGTA was supposedly an investment in oil and fuel, but the SEC found it to be nothing but a scam. On April 14th, 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office brought criminal charges against Cicolani Jr. and Hood related to the scheme, who both pled guilty. The SEC alleged that Cicolani himself recommended KGTA to at least 39 investors, and, because of this, earned over $5 million in commissions for himself. The SEC is now seeking to permanently bar Cicolani and Hood from the securities industry. Both were brokers at PrimeSolutions Securities at the time of the fraud. Both have been terminated from the firm.

Firms such as PrimeSolutions have a duty to reasonably supervise their brokers so they do not make unsuitable recommendations to clients. If the firm does not reasonably supervise its brokers, it may be liable for investment losses suffered by clients. We sue firms such as PrimeSolutions in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration process on a contingency fee basis to recover money for clients. The call to us is free with no obligation so please call today.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it has barred Jeffrey E. Gallagher from the securities industry. Gallagher pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity and two counts of tax evasion. Gallagher was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $616,535 in restitution to his victims and $69,377 in restitution to the IRS. Gallagher had acted as an unregistered broker-dealer from 2008 until 2012 and was accused of running an investment scam during that time. A total of $617,475 of investor money was lost and he also used $249,703 of the 23 victim’s money for his own personal benefit. He did not report the money to the IRS. Gallagher pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and three counts of interstate transportation of stolen property based on his illegal and unauthorized options trading while employed as a stockbroker at PaineWebber Inc. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The SEC barred Gallagher from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent or nationally recognized statistical rating organization, and from participating in the offer or trading of any penny stocks.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued an Investor Alert on Saturday warning investors about a phone scam, with calls allegedly coming from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The calls have targeted more than 700,000 investors since 2013, demanding that they immediately pay a tax obligation or face serious consequences, such as the possibility of being arrested. The callers have become increasingly successful and sophisticated by building credibility through altered caller ID numbers and official-looking documents. FINRA warned investors that the IRS never calls taxpayers and demand immediate payment of a tax obligation. If you receive a call such as this, FINRA recommends to please alert the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General.

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