Construction company owners admit income tax fraud in building Billings mansion
BILLINGS – The owners of Kisling Quality Builders today admitted they evaded paying more than $320,000 in taxes in a scheme in which they used the construction of a Billings mansion to avoid reporting more than $800,000 in profits, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
James Kisling, 51, and his wife, Timilynn Kisling, 44, of Billings, each pleaded guilty to an information charging them with two counts of tax evasion. The Kislings face a maximum five years in prison, a $100,000 fine, costs of prosecution and three years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided and will recommend the couple’s pleas be accepted by U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters, who is hearing the case. The Kislings were released pending further proceedings. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Prosecutors said in court records that the Kislings, who own KQB, arranged with Larry Wayne Price, Jr., to hide income when Price hired the company in 2014 to build his house—one of the largest residential mansions every constructed in Billings. KQB agreed to construct the house at cost plus 9 percent, making KQB’s profit an additional 9 percent of the cost.
Price, a former vice president of Signal Peak Energy, a Montana coal company, is awaiting sentencing for his guilty pleas to wire fraud, money laundering and false statements for defrauding coal companies of about $20 million and lying to investigators about a fake abduction. Price’s Billings mansion is among properties to be forfeited at sentencing as part of an agreement with the government.
The Kislings committed tax fraud with Price’s cooperation and knowledge, prosecutors said in court documents. In 2014, the Kislings began building a home for themselves. Instead of paying for this house with their income, the Kislings arranged with Price to make it appear as if the cost of their personal house was part of construction costs of Price’s mansion. The Kislings referred to their house as the “Price Guest House” in work documents for the mansion, and they deducted construction costs for this house from the 9 percent profits they were supposed to receive from Price. Rather than pay the Kislings their profit for building the mansion, Price and the Kislings agreed that Price would simply not pay them approximately $526,132, which was the cost of constructing their personal home, but that the Kislings would still credit him for doing so.
Through this arrangement, the Kislings disguised $526,132 of profits on the Price mansion and deliberately did not report this income to the IRS on their 2014 tax return as required.
In 2015, a similar transaction occurred when the Kislings needed a $275,000 loan on a short time frame for a land transaction in Wyoming. Instead of going to a bank for financing, the Kislings asked Price for the money. Price agreed to the loan and provided the funds. And in an arrangement similar to the Kislings’ personal house construction, the repayment of this loan was disguised as expenses related to the “Price Guest House” and deducted from the 9 percent Price was supposed to pay the Kislings. As a result, the Kislings disguised $275,000 of profits for their work on the Price mansion. The Kislings deliberately did not report this income to the IRS on their 2015 tax return as required.
In an interview with Department of Justice representatives, the Kislings acknowledged that they knowingly and willfully omitted profits from their 2014 and 2015 tax returns and that they both participated in the scheme. The scheme enabled the Kislings to hide approximately $801,132 in income from the IRS.
The parties disagree on the amount of the government’s loss from the fraud but hope to resolve the difference before sentencing. The IRS has calculated the tax due and owning as $327,664, not including penalty and interest, while the Kislings’ accountant has calculated the tax due as $320,102, not including penalty and interest.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin Rubich, Zeno Baucus and Tim Tatarka are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the IRS and FBI.