Archive for the ‘Utah’ Category

Can We Kill the Death Master File?

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Years ago, having the Social Security Administration publish a “Death Master File” was probably necessary. This may have been the only manner for various government agencies and insurance companies to learn that individuals had passed on.

Today, though, the information should only be disseminated to those who need it. Insurance companies should be able to subscribe to the list (as well as government agencies). However, is there any reason why John and Jane Doe need to have access to the list?

Well, one reason the Does need access is to commit identity theft: Three Utah men are accused of using the Death Master File for just that purpose. The men then created fake documents from phony employers to obtain tax refunds. The refunds reportedly were on the small side ($1,046 to $2,624). In any case, the IRS discovered the scheme and the men are now facing numerous charges of false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

While these three alleged identity thieves were caught, many more are finding the US government a great source of revenue while ruining the lives of innocent taxpayers. (Jason Dinesen, an EA from Indianola, Iowa, has run a story about a woman who is dealing with identity theft related to her late husband. This is almost certainly another case which stems from the Death Master File.) Identity theft makes the lives of victims miserable for years and is far too easy a crime for the thieves to commit. Ending the sale of information from the Death Master File would be a nice start to combating identity theft.

Companions to ClubFed

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

After a hectic Sunday, there’s nothing like that old standby, the Escort Service, to lighten an evening. I reported on Companions earlier this year. The owners of this Salt Lake City club did quite well but somehow forgot to report all of their income on their tax return. When the unreported gross receipts total $1.2 million and the IRS finds out, ClubFed is in your future.

Jodi Hoskins was found guilty earlier this year. Last week she was sentenced. Besides restitution of over $736,000, she’ll spend two years at ClubFed. Her then husband, Roy Hoskins, was sentenced to five years at ClubFed earlier this year.

As usual, it’s a whole lot easier to just pay the tax in the first place…but that rarely occurs to Bozo tax offenders.

Taxing Strip Clubs: OK; Taxing Escort Services: No

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Somehow, strip clubs and taxes seem to follow each other. Usually I report on strip club owners who somehow forget that cash income is just as taxable as any other income. Today, however, it’s time to head to Utah and look at the application of taxes on strip clubs and escort services.

Back in 2004 the Utah legislature voted to impose a 10% tax on strip clubs and escort services; the tax would fund sex offender treatment for some incarcerated sex offenders and fund the Utah Attorney General’s task force looking at crimes against children. The tax is imposed on businesses where there’s nudity for more than 30 days, and impact admissions, user fees, food and beverages, and Utah-produced merchandise that is sold in the businesses.

The tax was upheld on the strip clubs:

In this case, the tax is triggered by nudity, which the (U.S.) Supreme Court has specifically declared ‘is not an inherently expressive condition. We find nothing in the record before us — either (in) the tax’s legislative history or in the text of the tax itself — establishing that the tax was enacted with the predominant purpose of suppressing protected expression.

However, the tax was ruled unconstitutional as far as escort services. The statute doesn’t relate escort to nudity, and so it was ruled too broad:

The tax defines an ‘escort’ as anyone who accompanies another for compensated companionship…Therefore, according to the plain terms of the statute, individuals who are paid for providing care for the elderly as well as those who are paid as tour guides would fall within the definition of an ‘escort,’ and any person or business who employs them would be subject to the tax.

So good news for escort services, for now, but bad news for strip clubs. Unless the nudity vanishes—and that would, one assumes, defeat the purpose—Utah’s strip club tax is constitutional.

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