Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2009
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON The Department of Justice Tax Division today announced highlights of its work during the past year to defend and enforce the nation’s tax laws.

The Tax Division has assisted the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in tracking down tax cheats who use offshore accounts, combating abusive tax shelters, stopping tax defiers and shutting down tax schemes and scams. During FY 2008, the Tax Division also successfully defended refund suits against the United States representing claims of nearly $803 million, and collected, through affirmative litigation, over $178 million. The Division’s budget in that period was less than $93 million.

“It is important for the vast majority of taxpayers who pay their tax liabilities on time and in full, to know that those taxpayers who don’t will be held fully accountable, either civilly or criminally or both” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco.

Combating Offshore Tax Evasion

The Tax Division has devoted significant resources this past year to combating offshore tax evasion and locating hidden offshore assets. In June 2008, Bradley Birkenfeld pleaded guilty to conspiring with an American billionaire real estate developer, Swiss bankers and his co-defendant, Mario Staggl, to help the developer evade payment of $7.2 million in taxes by assisting in concealing $200 million of assets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In February 2009, the Tax Division, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, entered into an unprecedented deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank. As part of the agreement, UBS agreed to provide the U.S. government with the identities of, and account information for, certain U.S. customers of UBS’s cross-border business. UBS also admitted in the agreement, in great detail, how it had conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS. UBS also agreed to promptly exit its cross-border business with U.S. clients, to provide continuing cooperation with the government’s investigation, and to pay the United States $780 million.

As part of its continuing review of offshore account information received, in April 2009, the Tax Division, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, charged Steven Michael Rubinstein, of Boca Raton, Fla., with filing a false income tax return. According to court records, Rubinstein, a chartered accountant, failed to disclose in his 2007 Form 1040 that he had an interest in, or signature authority over, a financial account at UBS in Switzerland. Additionally, Rubinstein failed to report the income he earned on any UBS Swiss bank accounts. According to court records, from 2001 through 2008, it is alleged that Rubinstein repatriated approximately $3 million into the United States to purchase property and build a personal residence in Boca Raton. Additionally, it is alleged that Rubinstein deposited and sold more than $2 million in South African Krugerrands through his UBS Swiss bank accounts.

The Tax Division is also seeking from UBS approximately 52,000 additional names and account information of United States taxpayers. In February 2009, the Tax Division filed United States v. UBS (S.D. Fla.), a petition to enforce an IRS summons issued to UBS to obtain this information.

Curbing High-End Tax Shelters

During the past year, the Justice Department and the IRS have continued their civil and criminal enforcement efforts against the promoters and facilitators of abusive tax shelters. Abusive shelters for large corporations and high-income individuals have cost the U.S. Treasury many billions annually, according to Treasury Department estimates. The Tax Division also has had great success in federal court defending the U.S. Treasury against tax shelter-related claims of large companies and individual investors. The Tax Division is currently litigating approximately 94 civil tax shelter cases or groups of cases. Among the successes during the past year in this area are the following:

Stopping Tax Defiers

The Tax Defier Initiative, which the Tax Division announced in April 2008, targets persons who attempt to undermine our entire tax system. Tax defier cases traditionally involve individuals who spout rhetoric denying the fundamental validity of the tax laws as an excuse for not paying taxes, while also availing themselves of the benefits and rights that the United States provides to its citizens and residents. The number of tax defier cases referred for investigation or prosecution increased significantly during fiscal year 2008.

The success rate in tax defier prosecutions is very high. Some examples:

Halting the Promotion of Tax Fraud Schemes

Because ongoing tax scams cause continuing harm to the U.S. Treasury and leave participants owing taxes, interest, and often, penalties, the government does not wait until a criminal case has been developed to take action to stop the scam. Rather, the Justice Department brings civil injunction suits to stop both the promotion of tax scams and the preparation of false or fraudulent returns. In appropriate cases, the Justice Department brings criminal charges against the promoters, preparers and scam participants to punish them for their unlawful conduct.

In the past decade, the Justice Department has sought and obtained injunctions against over 300 promoters of tax fraud schemes, including a record 71 promoters in fiscal year 2008. These injunctions have stopped promoters from selling tax evasion schemes on the Internet, at seminars, or though other means. The tax scam promoters the government has sought to enjoin have cost the U.S. Treasury several billion dollars, and have had hundreds of thousands of customers. Among the government’s results in this area are:

Further details about these and other tax enforcement cases are available on the Tax Division’s Web site, on the IRS’s Web site, and on the IRS Criminal Division’s Web site

The Justice Department encourages anyone who has information about suspected tax fraud to report it to the IRS Web site at and click on the links “Contact IRS” and “How Do You Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity.”