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Taxes

Might As Well Forget About Filing Those Taxes--L.A. Way Less Likely Than Anywhere Else in California to Prosecute IRS Cases

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Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 1:57 PM

click to enlarge Bill Bene, circa 1989
  • Bill Bene, circa 1989
Tax Day is upon us, which means the procrastinators, feet draggers, and general deadbeats among us have until midnight to report their earnings to the Internal Revenue Service. If you haven't filed yet though, we suggest you keep your money.

What's the worse that could happen? Okay, so, technically, you could face prosecution by your local U.S. Attorney's Office, but don't worry, if you live in Los Angeles the chances of that happening are way less than if you lived anywhere else in California.

An investigation by California Watch found that over the past five years, the U.S. Attorney's Office responsible for Los Angeles and the surrounding areas followed up on a far smaller share of the criminal charges referred by the IRS than other offices around the state.

Sacramento's office prosecutes about 62 percent of cases referred by the IRS, and the offices in San Francisco and San Diego both prosecute about 57.8 percent, but the Los Angeles office follows up on just 51.4 percent of reported cases, the investigation found.

Our local U.S. Attorney's office did announce charges in one high profile case recently, though--against former Dodger's pitcher Bill Bene who, the agency says, didn't report $600,000 profits from the sale of counterfeit karaoke jukeboxes.

In addition to filing a false tax return, Bene was charged with copyright infringement for illegally copying and selling 122,000 songs to each device. The agency also alleges that Bene went "so far as to ask the IRS in 2008 for relief from back taxes because he claimed that he could not afford to pay."

If convicted, Bene could face up to eight years in prison... so, on second thought, you might want to get going on those taxes after all.

[@tessaestuart / tstuart@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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