Posts filed under “Taxes and Policy”

Beware: The Phony IRS Scam

Here is the latest scam:

A call comes in from 415-230-2734 — this is “Internal Revenue” calling. Not IRS, or the full name. San Francisco proper calling NY? No way.

I return the call, get someone with an Indian accent. Do it again 3X, getting a different person with an Indian accent each time.They always answer Agent XXX. (If you have ever spoken to anyone at the IRS, you know there is a very specific protocol they follow — this wasn’t it).

Eventually, I speak speak to a “supervisor” agent Kenneth (really) also with an Indian accent. The whole thing smells incredibly fishy.

I ask “What do I owe” and their response is “What do you think you owe?

Hey, you guys called me! Don’t you have that in your files?

Back and forth we go. He asks me again, so I say $25,000. He comes back with $29,434.59 including “legal expenses.” I laugh to myself.

A few years ago, I was on the Board of Directors of a company, and the outside accountants had made a pricing error when issuing the Board’s exercised stock options. They took in account illiquidity, and thin trading volume and made a huge discount on the exercise price. A year later, someone else discovered the error. In refiling the tax docs for the options, there is a box on the options form marked “Modification.” This genius accountant forgot to check it. So the  mistake made it appear to the IRS that these were were now a new filing of options, and everyone who exercised them failed to report it to the IRS on a timely basis the previous year.  Letters went out, bills were issued. The prior filing was at too low a dollar amount, so while we each owed the difference — a not insubstantial amount — it was a lot less than if we had been issued another big slug of stock.

It was a big pain in the ass, but eventually, we all got it straightened out.

During this snafu., I spent a lot of time speaking to IRS agents, investigators, supervisors. I got to know their rhythms and protocols, how they operated. The people on the phone tonight were obvious not IRS. It was clearly a scam to me.

The coup de grace is what they wanted from me: If I don’t send a transfer voucher –  tonite — they are going to issue an arrest warrant and an officer will be at my house in in 30 minutes to “bring me in.”

I engaged this worm Kenneth for another 10 minutes, before finally asking “Is anyone really dumb enough to fall for this scam?”

As soon as he hears the word scam, he hangs up.

That was 2 hours ago.

I assume the San Francisco number is a forward, and these Fraudsters are not really in the Bay Area.

I’d love to get these guys shut down — any suggestions?

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Tax-Friendly South Dakota Shelters Out-of-State Billions

From Bloomberg: South Dakota legislators have loosened the state’s laws to encourage wealthy out-of-staters to set up trusts there, often for tax reasons. The families needn’t move to the state or even invest there. In the past four years, the amount of money administered by South Dakota trust companies has tripled to $121 billion, almost…Read More

Category: Taxes and Policy

Tax Havens 101

Half of all trade and one third of all wealth pass through tax havens. They enabled Enron, Bernie Madoff and the Greek Debt Crisis:

Source: Public Integrity

What are offshore tax havens, who uses them, and how do they work? Find out in our explainer, and get the full story at

Category: Taxes and Policy, Video

More American Households Rely on Government Benefits

Source: U.S. Census

Category: Digital Media, Economy, Markets, Taxes and Policy

America’s Corporate Welfare Queens

It seems that welfare queens are back in the news these days. The old stereotype was an inner-city unwed mother — that’s dog-whistle-speak for black — having multiple babies to get ever bigger welfare checks (throw in a new Cadillac and the myth is complete). Regardless, welfare reform of the 1990s ended that narrative. No,…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Tax Rates, Inequality, and US Deficits

Its Friday, after what was for me a long and annoying 17 days. But the shutdown is over, US markets are at all time highs, and Bob Shiller got his Nobel (more on this tomorrow). You might think that I would be at peace with the current state of the world, but life is never…Read More

Category: Economy, Mathematics, Philosophy, Taxes and Policy

How the Government Pays Its Debt

Click for interactive graphic Source: Washington Post

Category: Politics, Taxes and Policy

Screwed By SCRIE Screed

@TBPInvictus I recently got an education on a loophole in a NYC program that is designed to protect seniors on fixed incomes from rising rents. The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program claims that: “Tenants who qualify for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program can have their rent frozen at their current level and…Read More

Category: Legal, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

How to Preserve a Family Fortune Through Tax Tricks

Click to enlarge Source: Bloomberg

Category: Digital Media, Taxes and Policy

The United States must raise infrastructure spending by 1 percentage point of GDP to meet future needs   Click to enlarge Source: McKinsey

Category: Economy, Taxes and Policy