The 'Wall Street Journal' Guide To Evading Taxes And Getting Away With It

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  1. Get rich.
  2. Stow your money abroad and don't tell Uncle Sam.
  3. Be a 79-year-old widow.

The latest lenient sentence, and the most dramatic, came in the case of Mary Estelle Curran, a wealthy 79-year-old widow in Palm Beach, Fla. On April 25, Federal District Court Judge Kenneth Ryskamp scolded prosecutors for pursuing her and sentenced her to a year of probation. Within a minute, he revoked the probation, making her a free woman.

Ms. Curran had pleaded guilty to having secret foreign accounts containing more than $40 million. Her lawyers said she inherited the money from her husband and relied on European advisers who told her not to declare it to the U.S. Ms. Curran tried to enter the IRS's limited-amnesty program in 2009, but the agency turned her down. She was indicted in late 2011 and faced up to 37 months in prison.

Even if you can't meet suggestion number three, be careful to observe number two; it will make things easier later.

The average sentence handed down in offshore cases has been less than 15 months, according to Mr. Townsend. In contrast, the average sentence in tax-shelter schemes has been 30 months over the past three fiscal years, according to IRS data.

Three-quarters of taxpayers charged in offshore account cases have pleaded guilty. So far, judges have handed down prison sentences about half the time.

"The cases involving offshore bank accounts are drawing lighter sentences than other criminal tax cases," said Mr. Townsend, who practices at Townsend & Jones LLP in Houston. He calls the discrepancy "troubling, because cheating is cheating."

Leniency for Offshore Cheats [WSJ]

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It's Possible A Bunch Of Employees At UBS Deutschland Helped Clients Evade German Taxes

The bank has ran its own internal investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing but prosecutors are still going to take a look-see themselves. The investigation, being conducted by economic-crimes prosecutors in Mannheim, was started in March against unnamed employees after a tax inquiry in the southwestern state of Baden Wuerttemberg identified suspicious transfers of funds from Germany to Switzerland, allegedly executed by a German taxpayer with the assistance of the Frankfurt-based office of UBS Deutschland AG...In May, prosecutors seized more than 100,000 computer files and other records during a search of the bank's Frankfurt office, Mr. Lintz said. Tax investigators are assessing this material to identify evidence that bank officials acted as accessories to tax evasion, he said. In its statement, UBS Deutschland said that "an internal investigation into the specific allegations has not identified any evidence of misbehavior by UBS Deutschland AG." It said it is cooperating with the criminal investigation. Several investigations of UBS clients in Germany are under way by local prosecutors independent of the Mannheim investigation, Mr. Lintz said. He declined to say how many clients are under investigation. A report in the Thursday edition of German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten said thousands of bank clients are under investigation. Mr. Lintz declined to confirm that figure. Germany Probes UBS Staff on Tax-Evasion Allegations [WSJ]