Posted by Kelly Shaw.
Morris Zukerman, age 72, plead guilty in June 2016 to obstructing the IRS as well as tax evasion. He was sentenced to 70 months in prison for his criminal offenses in March 2017. Morris sold a co-owned petroleum products company, which was owned by a subsidiary of his investment firm M.E. Zukerman & Co., and then proceeded to mask the income he received from the sale. By doing so, Morris was able to evade taxes on his $130 million in income in 2008.
One may wonder how Morris was able to hide such a large profit from his accountants and receive clean audits over the years. The cover story that was given stated that in 2007, Morris transferred ownership of the subsidiary to a trust account. He even went as far as creating false documents to support his story such as a promissory note. By not reporting the $130 million sale, M.E. Zukerman & Co was able to avoid paying $33 million in corporate income taxes.
To add to Morris’s list of crimes, he also claimed a $1 million charitable contribution deduction in 2009 and 2011, which he was not entitled. Morris was registered to purchase a property on Black Island that the Maine Coast Heritage trust (MCHT) was preparing to purchase and use for business purposes. After contemplating about whether he would make a charitable contribution or not, he ultimately purchased the land for himself through his new LLC for $1 million. On his personal tax return, he convinced his accountant that the purchase should be stated as a charitable contribution to MCHT which was incorrect.
A quote from the US Attorney John H. Kim, “While amassing a personal fortune through, among other things, the $130 million sale of his company, Morris Zuckerman cheated on his taxes for years, illegally scheming to evade almost every one of his tax liabilities. Through his criminal schemes, Zukerman deprived the public of over $45 million in taxes he rightfully owed.” It is evident that Morris Zukerman’s actions were motivated by pure greed with little regard for the consequences of his actions.
Kelly is an MBA student with a concentration in accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.