The 10 Worst Tax Cheats of 2022, According to the IRS

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Tax form with handcuffs and money
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Most of us have little desire to mess with the IRS. Filling out your annual tax form honestly and completely is the best way to keep the agency from poking around in your business.

But some folks just can’t help trying to pull the wool over Uncle Sam’s eyes. And when they get caught, they often pay a heavy price.

Recently, the IRS released a list of the agency’s “most prominent and high-profile investigations” that ended with federal prison sentences during 2022.

Following are some examples of people who tried to cut corners on taxes or commit similar fraud, and ended up paying a heavy price for doing so.

1. Lawyer who stole from his own clients

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Name: Michael Avenatti of Newport Beach, California

Sentenced on: Dec. 5, 2022

Sentenced to: 168 months (14 years) in federal prison. The court also ordered Avenatti to pay $10,810,709 in restitution to four clients and the IRS.

Pleaded guilty to:

  • Four counts of wire fraud (in association with stealing millions of dollars from his clients, including a paraplegic)
  • Obstructing the IRS (which was trying to collect more than $3 million in unpaid payroll taxes from a coffee business owned by Avenatti)

2. Florida man who ran an $80 million Ponzi scheme

gavel and money
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Name: Michael J. DaCorta of Sarasota, Florida

Sentenced on: Oct. 21, 2022

Sentenced to: 23 years in federal prison. The court also ordered DaCorta to forfeit $2,817,876.16 of the proceeds of his criminal conduct.

Convicted of:

  • Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Filing a false income tax return

The government says DaCorta and co-conspirators duped at least 700 people into investing in an investment company named Oasis International Group Ltd., which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme — a type of fraud that involves paying existing investors with money collected from new investors. The result was losses of more than $80 million for the victims.

3. Solar company exec who ran a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme

Checking out solar panels.
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Name: Paulette Carpoff of Martinez, California

Sentenced on: June 28, 2022

Sentenced to: 11 years and three months in federal prison

Pleaded guilty to:

  • Conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States
  • Money laundering

The government says Carpoff — who was chief operating officer of a business called DC Solar — played a key role in “the biggest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the Eastern District of California,” which is one of the largest court districts in the country. It is estimated that the scam robbed investors of approximately $1 billion.

The rest of the top 10

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Here are the rest of the top 10 cases on the IRS’ 2022 list:

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