Florida Indian Tribe Snubs IRS, Refuses To Pay Income Taxes

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The Miccosukee Tribe of West Miami-Dade County has been served with a summons from the IRS in the latest effort to get members to pay federal income taxes on millions of dollars of distributions from their gaming operations. The tribe has been under investigation by the IRS since 2005 stemming from their refusal to recognize the superior authority of the U.S. federal government.

The new IRS summons asks for checking, savings and credit card transactions from four major banking institutions covering the tribe’s activities between 2006 and 2009. Miccosukee lawyers asked the U.S. district judge in the case to block the summons, but the judge refused to.

Tribal lawyers are taking the position that the tribe’s sovereign immunity should prevent the U.S. from obtaining the financial records and that the tribe and its member should not have to pay income taxes. Federal law exempts the tribe’s gaming profits from tax, but its members are required to report and pay federal tax on income from all sources, including gaming distributions.

The Miccosukee are the only one of the 240 Indian tribes in the U.S. with casino operations who refuse to pay federal income taxes on monies distributed to tribe members. Each of the tribe’s 650 members is believed to collect about $200,000 per year.

The Miami Herald

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Rangel Walks Out On Own Corruption Hearing

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Rangel and Lawyers Split, and So Did He

After pleading with a House panel to delay his long-awaited trial on corruption charges, Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) abruptly left the proceedings after he told the House ethics committee that he needed more time to raise monies for his legal defense, since his legal reps quit last month.

Rangel’s troubles began in 2008 amid reports that he failed to file reports on assets, failed to pay income taxes on rental property, violated rent-control laws on his housing in New York, and used his congressional office to raise funds for a college building named in his honor. The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct charged him in July with 13 counts of ethics violations.

The trial was the first of its kind since 2002. The committee conducted a 21- month investigation including the interview of at least 50 witnesses. The last time the committee had independently investigated charges and held hearings on lawmaker misconduct was in 1987, making the current proceedings a high-profile event.

Rangel and his law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, parted ways in October during the final preparation work for the trail. The lawyers had already been paid $1.4 million but reportedly quit when advised that Rangel had depleted his campaign accounts and was not prepared to use to personal assets to pay for his defense.

As a member of Congress, Rangel could not accept pro bono defense work from a law firm, since it would be considered a gift, which would be illegal. Rangel asked the committee for more time so that he could launch a legal defense campaign, but the committee decided that it had already been delayed enough.

Since Rangel will not be presenting a defense to the charges, a verdict from the committee is likely to be forthcoming quickly. If he is found guilty, observers say the harshest punishment may only be a public reprimand. While some critics have asked for Rangel’s resignation from Congress, he has already issued a statement the he will refuse to resign.

Wall Street Journal

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Priest Convicted of Tax Evasion; Fined $4 Million

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Ciccolini with attorney Peter Cahoon

So much for the vow of poverty.

A wealthy priest in Akron, Ohio has been sentenced by a federal judge to one day in prison and ordered to pay nearly $4 million in fines and restitution, according to The Plain Dealer.  Rev. Samuel Ciccolini, 68, known in the community as Father Sam, was found to have siphoned off millions of dollars since 2000 from the Interval Brotherhood Home, a drug and alcohol treatment center that he founded in 1970.

According to authorities, by the end of 2006, Ciccolini had more than $4.3 million in personal bank accounts. Ciccolini was accused of lying about the source of more than $1 million in cash deposited to various personal accounts in 2003, consisting of more than 139 separate transactions of less than $10,000 in order to avoid bank reporting requirements.

Ciccolini began serving his one-day prison sentence immediately.

The Plain Dealer

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