Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Get in Line Brother & Righten That Wrong #4

The IRS continues to press the offshore issue, using a tried and true technique -- the John Doe summons -- for gathering information from U.S. resident companies in the credit and debit card processing businesses. You will recall that some years back the IRS used the John Doe summons in this context to blast out information identifying credit and debit card customers of tax haven banks.

The IRS is now back with a related John Doe summons initiative directed to identifying U.S. merchants who deposit proceeds from credit, debit, and other payment card sales directly into offshore accounts, thereby facilitating tax evasion. The summons was issued to a credit and debit card processor.

The petitioner asserts:

5. The "John Doe" summons relates to the investigation of an ascertainable group or class of persons, that is, United States taxpayers who have established Merchant Sales Agreements with First Data Corporation or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, to process debit card, credit card, charge card, or other payment card transactions pursuant to a referral or any other business arrangement involving or software provided by First Atlantic Commerce, Ltd., a Bermuda Corporation that results in Net Payments being deposited into an account at a Merchant/Acquiring Bank located outside the United States, at any time during the period January 1, 2002, through the date of service of the "John Doe" summons. There is a reasonable basis for believing that such group or class of persons may fail, or may have failed, to comply with one or more provisions of the Internal Revenue laws. The information sought to be obtained from the examination of the records or testimony (and the identity of the persons with respect to whose tax liabilities the summonses have been issued) is not readily available from other sources.

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