Friday, June 30, 2017

Issuing 1099s In Anger

Several years ago, I received an angry call from another CPA.

He had lost a couple of key partners, to which he responded with an almost Game-of-Thrones vindictiveness. He had been charged with issuing false Form 1099s to his former partners.

They dragged him into Court for this and other reasons.

I had looked into the 1099 matter. It is not every day a CPA is charged with issuing false tax forms.

Why would somebody do this: issue false 1099s?

Because chum in the water.

Let’s talk about the Petrunak case.

Petrunak was a pyrotechnician.

This guy made fireworks. He owned a company called Abyss Special FX, Inc. (Abyss), and he could do both indoor and outdoor fireworks displays.

This also meant that he was under regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

A couple of ATF agents conducted a mandatory inspection and found a number of violations. Petrunak challenged their findings and had his day in administrative court. I do not know what the details were, but the judge revoked Petrunak’s fireworks license.

So much for Abyss and his paycheck.

Petrunak reckoned he lost a lot of money – both as real-money losses and as money he would have made except for the ATF agents.

He had time to think about it. He thought about it for five years.

He had Abyss send each of them a Form 1099-MISC for $250,000.

Half a million. He figured that was about what they had cost him.

Abyss deducted that half million. As Abyss was an S corporation, there was a big loss passed-through to Petrunak to use on his individual return.

Needless to say, both ATF agents omitted that 1099 from his/her individual tax return.

One agent however got pulled for audit.

The IRS wanted taxes of over $100 grand. She spent a lot of time contesting and unraveling that mess.

Exactly what Petrunak wanted. Forms 1099 are chum in the water to the IRS.

Problem is, the IRS pursued Petrunak after the ATF agent’s audit. He admitted to filing those 1099s, but he was right in doing so and those two had lied – to a judge, unbelievable! – and an IRS person told him that he might be able to issue 1099s for his business costs. He estimated his costs to be half a million.

The IRS charged him with three counts of making false and fraudulent IRS forms.

He fought back, going to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

How did it turn out?

Petrunak is going to prison for 24 months.

His accounting was fantastical, but I get his anger.

Circling back, the accountant who called me was angry because I did not agree with him.

To be kind, let’s say his side of story was … creative.

But then, have a CPA play in a field with accounts receivable, deferred compensation, cash transfers, buyout agreements and whatnot and a talented – and motivated - practitioner can get creative.

He did.

Problem was: he picked a fight with tax CPAs. Two of them.

Bad call. 

It cost him a few bucks.

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