Florida Attorney Charged in Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Tax Scheme
For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Allegedly Earned Over $10 Million
A federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale returned a 34-count indictment, unsealed today, charging an attorney with conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail and wire fraud conspiracy, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and other crimes arising out of his promotion of an illegal tax shelter scheme involving false charitable contribution tax deductions.
According to the indictment, Michael L. Meyer of Davie, Florida, organized and sold an illegal tax shelter called the Ultimate Tax Plan to assist high-income individuals in reducing their taxes. Meyer allegedly marketed the scheme as a way for clients to claim charitable contribution tax deductions without giving up control over the assets they purportedly donated to charity and advised that clients could still access their donated assets for their own personal use through tax-free loans and execute an “exit strategy” to buy back their donations at a significantly discounted rate. The indictment further alleges that, to execute the scheme, Meyer prepared the boilerplate transaction documents, prepared appraisals of the purported donations, assisted clients in filing false tax returns, and controlled the charities that received the purported donations. For several clients, Meyer and his co-conspirators allegedly created backdated transaction documents to make it appear that a client had made a charitable contribution in a prior year and, in turn, assisted clients to falsely claim charitable tax deductions for the prior year.
The indictment further alleges that Meyer represented clients in audits with the IRS, during three of which Meyer allegedly provided false documents to the IRS.
In April 2018, the United States filed a Complaint for Permanent Injunction and Other Relief against Meyer seeking to enjoin him from, among others, continuing to promote the Ultimate Tax Plan. The United States allegedly issued civil subpoenas to witnesses requesting records related to the Ultimate Tax Plan. In response to the civil subpoenas, Meyer and his co-conspirators allegedly prepared backdated documents and directed clients to submit those backdated documents in response to the subpoenas. Meyer also allegedly provided backdated documents in response to document requests from the United States. In April 2019, a federal district court entered a permanent injunction against Meyer. The indictment alleges that Meyer violated the terms of his permanent injunction through various means, including filing tax returns, assisting clients in taking charitable tax deductions, and providing advice on charitable tax deductions.
Since 2013, Meyer and his co-conspirators allegedly earned more than $10 million from selling the Ultimate Tax Plan. Meyer allegedly used that income to purchase a multi-million-dollar estate and a luxury vehicle collection that included Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Mercedes Benzes, a Bentley, and a Ferrari.
Meyer made his initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes of the Southern District of Florida. If convicted, Meyer faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States, twenty years in prison for mail and wire fraud conspiracy, three years in prison for each false return count, three years for each count of endeavoring to impede the internal revenue laws, and twenty years each for obstructing and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Assistant Chief Michael Boteler and Trial Attorneys Casey S. Smith and Andrew Ascencio of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case with assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Updated July 21, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-795