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Old 07-05-2016, 12:12 PM
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Anyone know anything about MONEY LAUNDERING and A TAVERN ????


Hey to all. I have a quick question. I'll try and keep it short and to the point. A run down tavern who only has "liquor" to sell (i.e., no cigarettes or food etc) - claims on their income tax return that even though they only spent $7,000 on "purchase of goods / inventory" - yet somehow "gross sales" were $250,000 - what the hell is up with that ? Is this a classic example of MONEY LAUNDERING ? Just curious. (**Oh and keep in mind - by "run down" - I mean seriously ?? There is no way this place makes $500 a week much less over $5k per week). And that's a fact jack!
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:15 PM
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:22 PM
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Hey to all. I have a quick question. I'll try and keep it short and to the point. A run down tavern who only has "liquor" to sell (i.e., no cigarettes or food etc) - claims on their income tax return that even though they only spent $7,000 on "purchase of goods / inventory" - yet somehow "gross sales" were $250,000 - what the hell is up with that ? Is this a classic example of MONEY LAUNDERING ? Just curious. (**Oh and keep in mind - by "run down" - I mean seriously ?? There is no way this place makes $500 a week much less over $5k per week). And that's a fact jack!
Actually, this emerged as a subtopic in a recent thread about money launderng in general. Looks like the people running the scam you are referring to were a particular kind of stupid. Here is the link to the first post in the discussion I referred to above, if you're interested - keep reading down the thread to see how it evolved.
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:38 PM
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Thank you - and why or what did the other poster mean by "reported" ? What kind of crap is that ?
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:02 PM
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All I know is if you're having a drink in one don't remind any other guys that they used to be shoe shine boys.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:03 PM
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Thank you - and why or what did the other poster mean by "reported" ? What kind of crap is that ?
You're new here (only two posts and a July 2016 join date). You posted something the other poster thought might be suspect. The "reported" statement is a flag to the mods to check this thread. One of three things will occur:
  1. Nothing.
  2. A mod will stop by and make a comment.
  3. Guido will make you an offer you can't refuse.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:05 PM
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The reported post is more to alert non-mods that the post has been reported once already and there's no need for anyone else to report it.

Reporting a post automatically alerts the relevant mods in the super-secret forum.

Last edited by Inner Stickler; 07-05-2016 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:05 PM
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OH - ok I got you . . Yes Im brand new - just joined "TODAY" - so yeah hopefully not breaking any 'forum rules' which I dont think I am ........ thanks for the heads up !
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:08 PM
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And thank you SKDO - I did check that other forum post out - very interesting! But yeah I'm concerned because I'm not quite calculating in my brain how you can have "X" for purchase of sellable goods and turn a profit of "Y" which any one that's around here know that there has NOT been 'those said purchases' bought - much less sold .... I'm thinking a lot of different things right now ......
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:28 PM
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OH - ok I got you . . Yes Im brand new - just joined "TODAY" - so yeah hopefully not breaking any 'forum rules' which I dont think I am ........ thanks for the heads up !
[Moderating]

I don't see a problem with your question. However, since we don't have much information on the example you mention this requires speculation, so I am going to move this to our In My Humble Opinion forum.

I would, however, not give identifiable information about the business you mention, since you are making serious accusations as well as disclosing what may be confidential information from their tax returns. Let's keep this a hypothetical discussion.

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PS. You may want to avoid posting words in ALL CAPS. People on this forum may look askance at that, since it looks like you are shouting.

Last edited by Colibri; 07-05-2016 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 07-05-2016, 03:04 PM
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Around these parts you can buy a liter of vodka for about $7 which will pour 20 drinks at $8/drink (way more in some places but your place is run down) so they should make 160 for every 7 they spend (soda is basically free). So I wouldn't be surprised by $160k on 7k of costs. To get to 250 their per drink cost would have to be about $12.50/drink which is a bit high depending on the area. It's nuts how little the booze costs in running a bar it's the rent and the employees that kill you.

Also were only talking about 20k drinks per year assuming they're open normal bar hours about 30 hr/week and 50 weeks per year they would only need 10-15 people in the bar to achieve this and may not even look busy. All in all it may be money laundering but probably not more than a 100 grand or so.
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Old 07-05-2016, 04:03 PM
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All I know is if you're having a drink in one don't remind any other guys that they used to be shoe shine boys.
Nicely played Leo, I'm pleased I'm on the same wavelength as one other person at least.




Now go get yer fuckin' shinebox
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Old 07-05-2016, 05:04 PM
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Hey to all. I have a quick question. I'll try and keep it short and to the point. A run down tavern who only has "liquor" to sell (i.e., no cigarettes or food etc) - claims on their income tax return that even though they only spent $7,000 on "purchase of goods / inventory" - yet somehow "gross sales" were $250,000 - what the hell is up with that ? Is this a classic example of MONEY LAUNDERING ? Just curious. (**Oh and keep in mind - by "run down" - I mean seriously ?? There is no way this place makes $500 a week much less over $5k per week). And that's a fact jack!
That ratio is incredibly unlikely. Most people buying small, run down bars would be well advised to ignore the offered financials as they likely to be 50+% BS at a minimum. The best way to evaluate the investment is to strike an agreement with a competent, experienced bar operator in the same area who is not directly competitive to the tavern you are interested in. Agree to pay them some fee for consultation have them scope out the bar and the observed customer flow. They should be able to tell with 90% or better accuracy what the real world numbers you can expect are. If you are also buying the real estate you need to get a full property inspection.

Last edited by astro; 07-05-2016 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 07-05-2016, 05:08 PM
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You'd really have to look at the detailed numbers to know what was going on.

For example, tax returns calculate cost of goods sold by taking beginning inventory, adding purchases and subtracting ending inventory. So when you say they only "spent" 7,000 is that the purchases or the cost of goods line? If it's the purchases line, then maybe they started with a large inventory and sold it down over the year.

Did they actually pay for the booze? Lots of unsuccessful businesses get behind on payments to suppliers. Maybe they sold $10,000 worth of booze that they haven't paid for yet and so they didn't claim it as a tax deduction.

What is their total profit, and what are their other expenses? Maybe they have a sloppy bookkeeper who put most of alcohol purchases on the return as "Supplies" instead of cost of goods sold? (I've seen bigger mistakes made by accounting professionals who should have known better.)

Did they record tips and sales tax as part of their gross receipts? Around here, those two non-income items could be 25-30% of receipts. Plenty of people screw up their bookkeeping and record them as income when received and expenses when paid. If we make that assumption, then the correct gross sales of this bar might be more like 190,000.
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Old 07-05-2016, 06:37 PM
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Many taverns make money on things that don't get documented, even if we don't count the sex workers who work the customers and pay the management to look the other way. Around here, it's unusual to find a bar without some gambling going on. There's games of chance presented as pull-tab cards, the big bowl of tear-apart tickets, sports boards for racing and basketball, punch boards, and such. There may be bets laid on pool games, but the coin-op pool table rakes in a lot more than you might suspect. The list goes on to video slot machines, leased from the local coin-op mogul. The sign says "for amusement only," but a customer with a positive score can wave the bartender over and get paid. Truth be told, winnings are only a fraction of the money the sucker has poured into the bill slot.

In this state, bar gambling is illegal, so all that dough is folded into the till, or not, and accounted for, or not, as some other kind of sales.
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Old 07-06-2016, 11:31 AM
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Yes there are many numbers I've seen from the actual tax returns and nothing adds up. And yes I will keep this all a "hypothetical" scenario as to not incriminate anyone as these are not "serous accusations" but "serious infractions". It's not like there's $100M moving through this 'corporation' - but there is obviously "over $200k" so I'm sure even though this is not a "big fish" there still could be trouble if this is discovered - "I'd Think" .....

We are not in a state where there are gambling legally in the establishments so I don't think that's a factor here - however - I think it always raises eyebrows when there is a cash run business (primarily) and no payroll basically - yet there are so many checks wrote to cash and who does one even prove where that went ? (obviously everyone knows that only "One" person does not work so that sort of diffuses the "one person on the payroll" idea) - so all the other employees get cash (hence all the checks to cash) - but anyway ya I'm thinking there could be in this "hypothetical situation" that there is some definite money laundering going on.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:04 PM
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Yes there are many numbers I've seen from the actual tax returns and nothing adds up. And yes I will keep this all a "hypothetical" scenario as to not incriminate anyone as these are not "serous accusations" but "serious infractions". It's not like there's $100M moving through this 'corporation' - but there is obviously "over $200k" so I'm sure even though this is not a "big fish" there still could be trouble if this is discovered - "I'd Think" .....

We are not in a state where there are gambling legally in the establishments so I don't think that's a factor here - however - I think it always raises eyebrows when there is a cash run business (primarily) and no payroll basically - yet there are so many checks wrote to cash and who does one even prove where that went ? (obviously everyone knows that only "One" person does not work so that sort of diffuses the "one person on the payroll" idea) - so all the other employees get cash (hence all the checks to cash) - but anyway ya I'm thinking there could be in this "hypothetical situation" that there is some definite money laundering going on.
I'm not clear at all on your objective here. Unless you are in law enforcement this overwhelming concern you have about "money laundering" going on seems a bit misplaced unless you are going to be impacted by it. If you have the returns in hand I'm assuming you are evaluating the business for purchase or investment. The numbers you have given so far seem to indicate the financial statements and returns are largely a fiction. It seems very sketchy. Just don't buy or invest in the property and just move on. There are better places to put your money.

Last edited by astro; 07-06-2016 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 07-07-2016, 06:59 AM
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Out of curiosity how is it you know the details of the tax returns on this run down tavern ?
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Old 07-07-2016, 07:39 AM
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Bars are audit central for the IRS. There are reasons - as Dracoi said, why you could get $250k worth of revenue off $7k investment - but it honestly isn't likely. Usually, bars work the other way - its easy to take in money under the table in a bar and not report it to the IRS - that 20 drink bottle of vodka pours 15 drinks that go into the till to get counted for taxation and 5 drinks that go under the table to not get taxed - which is why the IRS likes to audit them. However, its hard to tell if its owners stiffing the IRS or if its employee theft. Inventory control in a bar is hellish.

If you have concerns, call the IRS tip line and report them. (assuming you are in the U.S.) If astro is right and you are looking to invest, bars are tough.
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Old 07-07-2016, 08:59 AM
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Around these parts you can buy a liter of vodka for about $7 which will pour 20 drinks at $8/drink (way more in some places but your place is run down) so they should make 160 for every 7 they spend (soda is basically free). So I wouldn't be surprised by $160k on 7k of costs. To get to 250 their per drink cost would have to be about $12.50/drink which is a bit high depending on the area. It's nuts how little the booze costs in running a bar it's the rent and the employees that kill you.
I don't know how universal this is, but in my state, liquor that is sold through bars is taxed at a much higher rate than what you can buy at a liquor store. A bottle of Jim Beam that I could pick up at $12 at an ABC store actually costs a bar $21. A bottle usually only pours about 15 drinks using a 1.5oz jigger, not 20.

This theoretical bar would have to be running close to $50 a shot for rail liquor to make up that kind of margin. Your mileage might vary based on locale, or shorting drinks, but not that much.
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Old 07-07-2016, 01:58 PM
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There have been bars in Wisconsin accused of running video poker machines without licenses. They take payments and make payouts under the table, and they report the income as sales of drinks and other products they sell. The receipts they have for the purchase of their alcohol provide evidence to support that, for example, they could not have sold $100K in alcohol because they only bought $1K of it.
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:13 PM
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We've also had a lot of threads about businesses people suspect of money laundering. I'm at work and kinda busy right now, or I'd be tempted to pull a search on them.
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Old 07-08-2016, 12:00 AM
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I guess maybe money laundering wasn't the best term to use? Hypothetically yes we were going to possiblyou purchase a place. Happens to be a place that my brother has been going for years and then one thing leads to another and he is closed friends with a few of the bartenders and so he knows this place and it's clientele better than most. I do not think I need to mention that the payroll consists of like 2 people when there is actually about 8 or so working who collect their pay in cash, however, after further interest etc etc and seeing the tax returns I am beyond skeptical as is my brother. The numbers are beyond BS. The deductions are almost all of the income and the cash being paid out to the employees is obviously something I think could and would cause problems especially if an audit were to happen. Curious curious and more curious Hypothetically here ... and again if it isn't money laundering... why and on what basis would a tavern want to inflate their gross sales by an obscene amount (meaning the place doesn't ring more than $40k-$50k so why over inflate so much?
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:57 AM
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Wait, the place is for sale? Then the gross sales figures are just bullshit. Every retail operation like that for sale will have ridiculously inflated sales figures, and deflated expenses.
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Old 07-08-2016, 01:07 PM
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They would inflate the gross sales because many people negotiate a sales price based on their gross sales. Different industries use different multiples, but a common rule of thumb is that you buy a service-based business for the same dollar amount as a year's worth of their sales. Even if the price is based on something else, a buyer always prefers to take over a profitable business.
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:02 PM
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Well then how could they have filed a tax return with all those inflated numbers ? (Hence is why first thing that came to my mind was money laundering .....) because the business and sales are not there, not by a Longshot......
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:22 PM
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I don't know how universal this is, but in my state, liquor that is sold through bars is taxed at a much higher rate than what you can buy at a liquor store. A bottle of Jim Beam that I could pick up at $12 at an ABC store actually costs a bar $21. A bottle usually only pours about 15 drinks using a 1.5oz jigger, not 20.

This theoretical bar would have to be running close to $50 a shot for rail liquor to make up that kind of margin. Your mileage might vary based on locale, or shorting drinks, but not that much.
Well, I only know Colorado but your number seem way off from what we do here. The feds charge $13.50/ proof gallon and Colorado charges $0.6026/ proof liter and most bars buy the booze by the liter for their well booze is as opposed to the 750ml that most people buy. So well booze tax here would be $2.83 for the feds and $0.48 for the state those excise taxes are included to the purchase price for the bars. Skol vodka and rum is currently selling the major accounts for $7/liter. So taxes are about 3.31 of that 7. There are 33.8 oz per liter so at perfect 1.5 oz pours you actually get 22 pours per bottle so I was being conservative. I'm not sure how a bar could function with the costs you're talking about

On a more personal level my distillery sells our well rum for $12/750 ml to our major account and we are on the absolute top of the well market in Colorado and are advertised as a premium well.
Even with our premium rum that costs $28/750 ml bars are charging $6/shot and they get 16 shots per bottle so they are doing $96/$28 spent but that is not what they do volume in.
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Old 07-08-2016, 10:51 PM
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I guess maybe money laundering wasn't the best term to use? Hypothetically yes we were going to possiblyou purchase a place. Happens to be a place that my brother has been going for years and then one thing leads to another and he is closed friends with a few of the bartenders and so he knows this place and it's clientele better than most. I do not think I need to mention that the payroll consists of like 2 people when there is actually about 8 or so working who collect their pay in cash, however, after further interest etc etc and seeing the tax returns I am beyond skeptical as is my brother. The numbers are beyond BS. The deductions are almost all of the income and the cash being paid out to the employees is obviously something I think could and would cause problems especially if an audit were to happen. Curious curious and more curious Hypothetically here ... and again if it isn't money laundering... why and on what basis would a tavern want to inflate their gross sales by an obscene amount (meaning the place doesn't ring more than $40k-$50k so why over inflate so much?
As a rule in selling businesses small cash businesses like bars and convenience stores that are owner-operator non-franchise operations hide as much cash as possible while operating so their tax return history should show very little income. When they go to sell they will have a difference balance sheet that is often just s much BS for potential buyers.

People who are not intimately familiar with the way operations like this are run (and you and your brother are obviously not familiar) have no way of knowing what the real numbers are. Bars are irresistible candy to many people who have romantic notions about what is, at root, a tedious and difficult way to make a living and many, if run honestly, would not be worth operating as the net cash flow after taxes would not be worthwhile. It is also unlikely you will be able to finance the purchase as banks are not stupid enough to take their half assed financial statements at face value.

You and you brother need to find another place to put your money this is not good investment for beginners.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:37 AM
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Here's a common scam, I saw it being used. A tavern owner wanting to sell his place would take the nightly receipts, pay himself after deducting what he needed to cover expenses, then take what he had paid himself and bought drinks with it. He wasn't actually buying any drinks, he was just ringing a bunch of drinks into the cash register and putting the money back in again. No expenditures, no real income, but the daily gross was inflated, and it looked like he was making a lot of money from the business.

Last edited by TriPolar; 07-09-2016 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 07-10-2016, 03:27 AM
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Reported.
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Old 07-10-2016, 03:29 AM
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Nicely played Leo, I'm pleased I'm on the same wavelength as one other person at least.




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Old 07-11-2016, 11:07 AM
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Well, I only know Colorado but your number seem way off from what we do here. The feds charge $13.50/ proof gallon and Colorado charges $0.6026/ proof liter and most bars buy the booze by the liter for their well booze is as opposed to the 750ml that most people buy. So well booze tax here would be $2.83 for the feds and $0.48 for the state those excise taxes are included to the purchase price for the bars. Skol vodka and rum is currently selling the major accounts for $7/liter. So taxes are about 3.31 of that 7. There are 33.8 oz per liter so at perfect 1.5 oz pours you actually get 22 pours per bottle so I was being conservative. I'm not sure how a bar could function with the costs you're talking about
I'm in North Carolina, which likely has much less public pressure than Colorado to keep booze cheap. A bit of Googling (I'm no longer in the bar business, so don't have access to a better source) finds that NC's $12.30 per gallon retail excise tax is one of the highest in the nation. There's an additional $3.75 per bottle tax applied for service at a bar.

That being said, a fifth (your standard size bottle at a bar in my neck of the woods. Perhaps you mountain folk prefer larger bottles?) is much less than a liter: there's only about 25oz in a fifth.

Most importantly, I'm fascinated by how relatively cheap liquor is for bars outside of my home state. They must either be a license to print money or people just don't go out as much.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:29 AM
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Well then how could they have filed a tax return with all those inflated numbers ? (Hence is why first thing that came to my mind was money laundering .....) because the business and sales are not there, not by a Longshot......
You write down a bunch of numbers. You sign it. You mail it to the IRS. It's illegal to file a fraudulent return, but the IRS mostly cares about people under reporting income.

Heck, they have at least three years to amend it, so they can always sell the business then "discover all those missing receipts" so that it won't even cost them any money in taxes in the long term.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:43 AM
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I'm curious about the "no food" thing. Generally speaking, a bar must at least offer to serve food (i.e.: have a food menu, even if it's only one item and so outrageously expensive that nobody would want to order it) to be legal. Maybe this is different wherever the OP's brother is.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 07-11-2016 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:34 PM
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I'm curious about the "no food" thing. Generally speaking, a bar must at least offer to serve food (i.e.: have a food menu, even if it's only one item and so outrageously expensive that nobody would want to order it) to be legal. Maybe this is different wherever the OP's brother is.
This requirement varies wildly and depends on the location, often down to the local jurisdiction. Some places require that at least 50% of the establishment's sales come from food, some allow straight up bars that don't even serve complimentary peanuts or pretzels.
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Old 07-11-2016, 04:02 PM
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You write down a bunch of numbers. You sign it. You mail it to the IRS.
Or possibly, just skip that last step, and show the piece of paper with the made-up numbers on it to your potential buyers (while sending a different, more honest, return in to the IRS).
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