FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES TO STOP HOME-BASED BUSINESS TAX SCAM
Colorado Couple Falsely Claim U.S. Citizens Exempt from Income Tax
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice today filed suit in federal court in Denver to stop a Fort Collins, Colo., couple and their organization from promoting an abusive tax scheme. According to Justice Department papers filed in the case, Austin Gary Cooper; his wife, Martha Cooper; and their organization, Taking Back America (TBA) falsely advise customers that they can avoid federal income tax by renouncing their "United States" citizenship in favor of "American" citizenship. The Justice Department has asked the court to order the Coopers, TBA, and anyone working with them to stop promoting the scheme and to provide the government with a list of customers who have purchased it.
"The Department of Justice is working systematically to shut down scammers who promote bogus tax schemes," said Eileen J. O'Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division. "Joining ranks with these con artists can lead to substantial penalties and criminal prosecution."
The Coopers and TBA have allegedly sold their scheme, for which they charge customers nearly $1,600, to as many as 2,000 people nationwide and have allegedly provided scheme purchasers with instructions on how to prevent employers from withholding taxes from the purchasers' wages. They have also allegedly furnished scheme purchasers with form letters to send to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration requesting a return of back taxes.
According to courts papers filed by the Justice Department, the Coopers and TBA used a network of distributors to market their scheme and promoted it on a website, at seminars and in periodic telephone conference calls. In its court papers, the government alleges that Austin Gary Cooper was criminally convicted in 1990 of willfully attempting to evade or defeat the payment of federal income tax by failing to file income tax returns, failing to pay income tax, and filing false tax-withholding certificates.
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