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Sharon Kukhan is known for selling a tax "decoder" scheme to help taxpayers avoid paying federal income taxes. She claimed she could "decode" the taxpayers' tax records to show that they were not required to pay income. Her system was based on the lie that clients did not have to pay income taxes unless they lived in a U.S. territory, and that residents of the United States could only be taxed with an excise tax on an excise-taxable business. The cost for this misinformation? $1,750 to $3,195.

The scheme had several names, including IMF Decoder, Paralegal Research Advocates, and Advocates for Justice, Liberty and Freedom. Kukhan's now defunct website IRScodebusters.com reportedly used to claim: "IRSCodebusters is a team of researchers including a federal lawyer (not an attorney) and a certified paralegal. This team specializes in utilizing the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act to provide a detailed decoding and examination of the Individual Master File and other secretly coded files the IRS keeps on you."

But the scam will run no more. A federal court has permanently barred Kukhan from selling her program, and the IRS estimates her work cost them about $4.9 million from taxpayers who failed to file returns or pay taxes.

If you participated in this scam, you can look forward to the IRS contacting you. Kukhan was required to turn over a list of her clients, and you can bet the government will be sending out audit notices. My advice? Find a competent tax lawyer and go to the IRS before they find you. Many times, they are more lenient with taxpayers who voluntarily report problems with their tax returns and work with the IRS to pay any taxes owed.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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