The Hillary Affair and its Repercussions to the American Taxation System

American tax laws being as complex as they are, the tax return preparer is a key player in ensuring proper compliance, serving as a vital bridge between taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, some of those entrusted with the task have willfully and intentionally fallen short of complying with the tax law standards with which the taxpayers and the IRS expect them to facilitate compliance.

In 1953, sociologist Donald R. Cressey published a book entitled "Other People's Money," for which he interviewed California prisoners convicted of embezzlement (the work was republished in 1973). From his analysis of the interviews, Cressey developed what has become known as the "Fraud Triangle" theory which holds that embezzlement by trusted employees or professionals occurs in environments where Pressure, Opportunity, and Rationalization converge.

It is easy to see how a "Fraud Triangle" situation might develop for a tax return preparer. The small business tax prep entrepreneur is subject to pressures when his or her clients are drawn to less scrupulous competitors. Tax return preparers are postured quite well by their training and experience to recognize the fraud opportunities that arise in the course of their business.

The Law of Unintended Consequences always kicks into play, whenever taxation is involved.  Now, the apparent impunity of a serious Presidential contender, who has served as a Senator and Secretary of State, for transgressions far worse and far, far more damaging to America than tax offenses has provided the tax return preparers (and their clients) the third leg of Cressey's Fraud Triangle: Rationalization.

ObamaCare has co-opted and complicated the taxation system as never before, thereby increasing the demand for the services of the tax preparation professional. With all three sides of Cressey's Triangle now in place, it is not difficult to predict a future uptick in tax fraud.

The small business tax prep entrepreneurs will have quite a challenge in steering away from tax fraud situations.

And as complex as personal tax affairs may be, the tax affairs of the corporation are magnitudinally more so. The Hillary Affair now poses significant challenges not only to the individual H&R Block franchisees, but also to the large international accounting firms engaged by the large corporations.

Kenneth H. Ryesky, now a senior advisor with U.S. Desk of Ernst & Young's International Tax Services in Tel Aviv, is a lawyer who has taught business law and taxation at Queens College CUNY.  He formerly served as an attorney for the IRS. The viewpoints expressed here are his own.