If you are in the marijuana industry, you need to realize that you are under a microscope more now than ever before. A lot of people are watching every move the marijuana industry makes, and any misstep is going to be pounced on by marijuana opponents. The same is also true for the people that regulate the marijuana industry. There was a high level regulator in Oregon that was fired after it was determined that he was giving preferential treatment to select people he would eventually be overseeing. In a recent case in Seattle, an IRS agent was charged for crimes surrounding a bribe he solicited and accepted from a marijuana business owner. Per The Seattle Times:
A Seattle agent with the Internal Revenue Service was charged Monday with soliciting a bribe and accepting payment from a local marijuana business owner.
Paul Hurley, 42, was charged in U.S. District Court after he allegedly asked for $20,000 cash from the store owner in exchange for giving lenience in a tax audit, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorneys Office.
The pot-shop owner reportedly did not ask for leniency.
Prosecutors say in the release Hurley presented the business owner a tax bill for 2013 and 2014 that totaled more than $290,000 but reported that he had saved the businessman more than $1 million. The agent then asked for $20,000 in exchange for the help, the news release says.
This type of behavior is obviously unacceptable, both for the IRS agent, but also for the business owner if the allegations are true. Of course if they are innocent, then all is well (which is what I’m hoping is the case). Do taxes suck for marijuana businesses? Absolutely. But you don’t try to cheat to get around them, and in the process give the industry a black eye. Instead get active. Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support 280e reform. A bribe gets past the tax man for one audit (assuming you don’t get caught), but reforming the tax code fixes the problem for all audits.