Whistle Blown on Referees

A fundamental principal of US taxation is that all income is taxable unless Congress exempts it. If you’re a referee in a basketball game, you have to pay tax on that money.

Now, I wouldn’t have though that refereeing adult basketball leagues would be something that leads to alleged tax fraud. But I was wrong.

From Chelsea Piers, the sports complex in Manhattan, comes the story of some basketball referees. At $40 a game, this doesn’t sound like big money. That said, it can add up; one of the accused allegedly earned more than $10,000 in 2004. Chelsea Piers (like all businesses) had to issue Form 1099-MISCs to any referee who made more than $600 in a year. Whether or not you receive a 1099, the income is still taxable; however, the defendants likely felt that if the IRS didn’t receive a 1099, they’d earn the money tax-free. So what’s a good way of avoiding getting a 1099?

How about identity theft. Instead of all the payments going to each individual, they paid the stolen names. They allegedly obtained these names from a variety of sources: a youth baseball team, cases at the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, a chamber of commerce, and friends and family.

Two of the four involved in the scheme pleaded guilty, while the other two were arrested.
The two remaining defendants face identity theft and tax evasion charges (one of the defendants also allegedly decided not to file any tax returns for four years).

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