A local businessman is currently representing himself in U.S. District Court on 17 tax-related charges leveled by the Internal Revenue Service more than two years ago.
John Rankin, 54, of Williamsport, chose to tackle the case pro se, serving as his own attorney for the lengthy trial.
“I think it’s going well so far,” Rankin said of the trial that began Monday at the federal courthouse in Columbus. “Jury selection and opening arguments were Monday, and now it’s a matter of presenting evidence and examining witnesses.”
Rankin said he expects the trial to last about three weeks.
Rankin was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 7, 2015, on 17 tax-related counts including seven counts of failing to account for and pay over employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), six counts of willfully filing false federal individual income tax returns with the IRS, three counts of willfully filing false federal corporate income tax returns with the IRS, and one count of obstructing and impeding the due administration of the IRS, according to the Cincinnati Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service.
At the time of the indictment, Rankin declared the charges were “ludicrous,” and he intended to vigorously defend himself against the allegations in federal court.- Advertisement -
According to a press release issued with the 2015 indictment, the indictment states that between June 2008 and April 2011, Rankin, conducting business as Rankin Enterprises, LLC and Tuscan Table, LLC, allegedly failed to account for and pay over to the IRS all federal income taxes and F.I.C.A. taxes (which includes Social Security tax and Medicare tax) that were withheld from the compensation of Rankin Enterprises, LLC and Tuscan Table, LLC’s employees, as well as the employer’s share of those employment taxes. Rankin filed the Forms 941 with the IRS which failed to report and pay over approximately $239,967.27 in employment taxes to the IRS.
It has also been alleged that Rankin filed false Forms 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns, with the IRS for the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 income tax years. The false Forms 1040X claimed corrected adjusted gross income amount of a negative ($1,677,201.18), when it has been alleged that Rankin’s actual corrected adjusted gross income was $8,924,297.42.- Advertisement -
For the 2010 income tax year, it has been alleged that Rankin filed a false individual income tax return with the IRS that reported $26,983.24 in adjusted gross income, when it has been alleged that Rankin’s actual gross income was $1,594,648.56.
In addition, it has been alleged that Rankin filed false Forms 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Returns, with the IRS for Connectivity Systems Incorporated (“CSI”) for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 income tax years. The false Forms 1120 claimed a false accelerated Research & Development Credit in the amount of $1,706,934.41 against the corporate taxes due and owing of Connectivity Systems Incorporated.- Advertisement -
Lastly, between January 2005 and July 2015, Rankin allegedly obstructed and impeded the due administration of the IRS by making false and misleading statements to agents of the IRS and by concealing information from agents of the IRS.
Failing to account for and pay over employment taxes to the IRS carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Willfully filing a false individual and corporate federal income tax return with the IRS and obstructing and impeding the due administration of the IRS carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Rankin said Tuesday he remains confident of his case, and he believes the jury will find in his favor.- Advertisement -