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MADOFF AND OTHER PONZI SCHEMES PRSENT TRICKY TAX ISSUES

© 2009 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire, Miami Florida
This issue summarizes in general terms some of the tax issues involved in attempting to claim a tax loss due to a Ponzi scheme fraud. The article is written mostly in lay terms and should not be viewed as exhausting all of the tricky tax issues concerning theft losses.
DEDUCTING THEFT LOSS IS PROBLEMATIC
Obtaining a tax deduction for a Ponzi scheme loss requires answering many questions of fact and law, including:
1. Whether the loss is an investment loss or a theft loss
2. The proper year for claiming the loss.
3. The amount of the loss
4. Whether the loss is deductible fully or only to the extent it exceeds 10% (as for personal casualty losses) of adjusted gross income for the loss year.
5. The character of the loss, that is, capital loss or ordinary loss.
6. Whether the loss is from a trade or business or non-business activity.
7. Whether a net operating loss created by the allowed loss deduction may be carried back to earlier tax years.
8. To which earlier tax years may a resulting net operating loss be carried?
9. Whether taxes paid on phantom or fictitious income from the Ponzi scheme may be recouped by filing amended returns.
10. Whether one may recoup taxes on fictitious income paid in years closed by the 3 year tax refund statute of limitations.
The answers to these questions often take years to resolve and too frequently result in litigation with IRS. Until the issues are resolved there is often the need for and expense of filing protective refund claims to preserve alternative or fallback positions.
In 2009, IRS published a Revenue Ruling explaining its positions regarding many of the above questions. Some examples of potential potholes for investors are:
1. Normally one may deduct a theft loss in the later of the year of discovery or year in which there is no longer a reasonable prospect of recovery. For most Madoff investors that would postpone the loss deduction to 2009 or later even though many investors are in dire financial strait... Read More »

MORE ON MORTGAGE DEBT CANCELLATION TAX ISSUES

© 2009 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire, Miami Florida
Effects of the sub-prime mortgage debacle are no doubt being felt by all. Especially desperate are those who purchased dream castles during 2005, 2006 and 2007 and are now among the largest group upside down to their mortgage debt and facing foreclosure or abandonment. This issue updates and expands on my previous discussion of mortgage forgiveness of a personal residence appearing in the May 8, 2008 issue. The relief granted by Congress to distressed homeowners who are released from part or all of mortgage debt obligations presents complex and tricky tax law issues that are best handled with the assistance of a lawyer experienced in tax matters.
The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Act) provides tax relief to defaulting homeowners who might otherwise owe income tax on qualifying mortgage obligations forgiven in 2007 through 2009. The Emergency Economic Stabilization act of 2008 extended that relief through 2012.
A lender that is paid less than the full principal owed on a mortgage often decides not to personally pursue the borrower for the deficiency i.e., the amount by which the amount of the mortgage debt obligation exceeds the value of the foreclosed property. In that case the lender is required to file Form 1099-C informing IRS and the borrower of the cancelled portion of the debt. The amount of cancelled debt is taxed at the higher ordinary income tax rates (not as a capital gain) unless certain narrow exceptions or escape hatches are available.

WHY CANCELLATION OF DEBT IS TAXED
Many logically ask: “Why am I taxed on a debt I cannot afford to pay when I’ve received no funds and have lost my home?” The answer is not comforting: the income tax applies to all income from whatever source derived. Income means an economic benefit received or constructively received, whether in cash or property or in some other form not constituting a gift. When you receive loan proceeds there is no immediate economic benefit because you have an equa... Read More »

RECOVERY JITTERS

© 2009 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire, Miami Florida
The stock market has been a see-saw ridden on one end by the desire for returns and on the other by fear. Glimmers of recovery squeezed from dubious statistical measures ramp up investor appetite for risk and buoy stock prices until hopes are dashed by another dour economic report or event re-igniting fear and dousing market enthusiasm. While the market has recovered from its nadir, slow rebounding corporate profits will drag stock performance down as companies adjust business models to a new environment of tighter credit, stingy consumer spending and closer regulatory scrutiny.
Investors in today’s market would do well to keep mindful the lyric from the song “Cool” by Stephen Sondheim (music by Leonard Bernstein) in the legendary Broadway show ‘West Side Story: “Boy, boy crazy boy / Get cool boy / Got a rocket in your pocket/ Keep coolie cool boy.” Patience, calm and caution are the watchwords of the day.
The economy is at a crossroads and may take a number of directions according to a recent Wall Street Journal commentary:
1. Another Great Depression. Thanks to the Obama stimulus plan this scenario is considered most unlikely at this stage of the U.S. recession although entirely possible in Europe where the central bank has been more tentative in employing direct fiscal intervention.
2. A Quick Rebound recovery. This is akin to the rebound effect of a Bongi jump when at the lowest point of the fall tension causes an opposite upward reaction. The tension in economic metrics is found in tax incentives, direct government spending and lean inventories that eventually are restocked as pent up consumer demand restarts production. With so much wealth having evaporated and consumer habits perhaps changed for some time to come, however, a quick rebound also seems unlikely.
3. A Lost Decade. The International Monetary Fund observed recently that recoveries from global recessions due to financial crises are typically slower. The U.S. economy could... Read More »

The material is prepared by order of NTV

Karina Duvall
Upon marriage registration the spouses by all means may take measures for saving their property harmless in the event of divorce. In case of non-availability of a contract between the spouses, the property acquired in wedlock will be divided in equal parts. The spouses may choose the contractual basis for the spouses’ property, thus saving themselves harmless from possible proper disputes in the future and saving time and money required for litigation.

However no contract can be a guarantee, far less in the family life. No insurance company will ever sell insurances against ill-starred marriage and dishonest conduct of the spouses in the marriage.

The marriage contract in Russia regulates only property relations of the spouses. The contract provisions regulating anything other than property relations are void. Upon registration of marriage with a foreigner one should take into account the specificities of his country and proceeds from the country in which the spouses intend to reside.

When marrying a foreigner the spouses should realize that the social environment in which they have grown is very different. Different parents, upbringing, education; different languages, different religion, culture, traditions. On top of that, the Internet through which people rather often get acquainted does not encourage deep understanding of each other. We live in the century of high technologies and space velocities. Therefore everything happens very quickly: sympathy, love, marriage... The instant of recognition is relegated to be of distant, non-essential importance. As a consequence, the majority of intermarriages result in divorce during the first year of marriage.

Why do wars between the spouses begin and why do they use nasty methods? – I believe the answer is obvious – money. Many people think that money rules the world, and many of them are unaware of such notions as decency, mutual responsibility, nobility. It is the money that forms the basis for t... Read More »

Russian citizenship

Karina Duvall
TO WHOM OT MAY CONCERN

CERTIFICATE
(Conclusion)

Citizen of the Russian Federation Ms. XXXXXXXXX, born on XXXXXXXXX in XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Russian Federation, has been permanently residing in XXXXXXXXXXXXX since XXXXXXXXXXXXX at the address: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Ms. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX is not married, has close relatives in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Her mother XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX, born on XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, is permanently residing in Kazakhstan, XXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. For health reasons mother of XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX is under permanent care of specialists because of surgical operation she has undergone.

Pursuant to the effective law, the Russian citizens do not need visa for going to Kazakhstan. XXXXXXXX, being a citizen of the Russian Federation, may visit her sick mother without hindrance and limitations in Kazakhstan, to help and support her.

At the same time getting a visa to Kazakhstan presents severe difficulties and bureaucratic obstacles for foreign citizens. In case of termination of XXXXXXXX’s Russian citizenship she will lose the possibility to visit her mother without hindrance.

The availability of Russian citizenship enables the citizens of the Russian Federation to visit any place of former USSR without hindrances, except for several countries, for which visa is required. Loss of citizenship will result in the impossibility to visit relatives in the countries of former USSR, even when having a Russian visa.

Foreign citizens have numerous restrictions on the territory of the Russian Federation (in particular the citizens, which have ceased being Russian citizens voluntarily), the requirements for getting a visa to Russia are very severe, the stay of a foreign citizen in Russia is strictly regulated by laws and bylaws of the Russian Federation.

In order to receive a visa to Russia, a person should have an invitation, while no invitation is require... Read More »
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