Selling the Dream—Artful Tax Dodger Dies in Prison

prison time for tax fraudWhile talking big and selling fake facts may not raise eyebrows today, Michael Cooper, founder of The Tax People, made big news for a short time selling tax fraud in the late 1990’s. Convicted of criminal tax fraud, Mr. Cooper went to federal prison and died there recently.


As a petty con man, Mr. Cooper brushed up against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) now and again in his poorly documented early career. According to accounts, Senate hearings in 1997 fueled public resentment of IRS tactics against tax-paying Americans. At that point, Mr. Cooper picked up the ball and ran with it.


Founding a business called Renaissance/The Tax People, Mr. Cooper and his team produced paper materials that promised to deliver legal, money-saving schemes and tactics by which ordinary taxpayers could shave thousands of dollars, if not more, from their annual tax obligations. The “Tax Advantage System” sold by the company sold information packages that outlined how taxpayers could eliminate tax on meals, mortgages, and other goods by claiming tax deductions on non-deductible items.


As you might have guessed, the information peddled by Mr. Cooper and his team quickly became the target of an IRS criminal tax investigation. Unwitting consumers caught up in Mr. Cooper’s bombast filed fraudulent tax returns and were later penalized or faced IRS audits on those false income tax returns. When the company ceased operation in 2001, approximately 50,000 people had bought into Mr. Cooper’s tax evasion tactics. Mr. Cooper was eventually convicted of dozens of federal tax crimes, earning a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.


While we often discuss sentences handed down on criminal tax charges, we don’t often see the outcome. Mr. Cooper served his sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas, and underwent heart bypass surgery three months ago. Although slated for release in August of this year, Mr. Cooper passed away from undisclosed causes in April.


With tax fraud as his business model, Mr. Cooper fought the law and the law won. His choices cost him the last 20 years of his life and profits earned off his scheme. The tax controversies faced by most taxpayers are smaller and more subtle. Learn from a fraudster who lived large and fell hard—when you become aware of a tax irregularity in your personal or corporate returns, contact an experienced tax attorney as soon as possible.


Knowledgeable criminal tax attorneys help you with tax litigation

With offices in Chicago and Cleveland, the tax attorneys at Robert J. Fedor, Esq., LLC help clients respond to criminal tax audits, offshore tax concerns, or allegations of tax crime. When you need experienced tax advice locally or abroad, call 800-579-0997 or contact us.


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