IRS Tax Controversy: ‘World Series of Poker’ Champion Faces Tax Dispute

While every taxpayer and business owner dreads the thought of an IRS audit, many of them also are of the mentality that “this could never happen to me.” Of course, as you know if you have been paying attention to this blog, IRS audits can happen to anyone. And in many cases, they result in lengthy and costly IRS disputes.

A recent example is the case of Jerry Yang. You may recognize his name—Mr. Yang was the winner of the 2007 World Series of Poker main event. But despite that massive payday, he ran into trouble over the past couple of years and has now seen his Main Event bracelet seized by the IRS.

As reported by

Jerry Yang is not the first World Series of Poker champ to sell his bracelet and he won’t be the last. His sale, though, appears to be the only one that is against the player’s will. His 2007 WSOP Main Event bracelet, along with numerous other items, have been seized by the United States Internal Revenue Service and will be auctioned off on April 4th.

According to the Notice of Encumbrances posted on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website, Yang owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. There are four line items showing money owed to the California Franchise Tax Board, the department that deals with personal income taxes and corporate taxes, totaling $3860.50.

On the federal side, there are three line items for the IRS. One is for just $461.11, but two, showing dates of June 23rd in both 2007 and 2008, are for $571,894.54 each. It is not exactly clear whether Yang is responsible for paying over half a million dollars twice or if the second is just a re-listing of the first (our guess is it’s probably a re-listing). If he’s on the hook for everything, that’s over $1.1 million owed to the federal government.

The IRS has listed 16 items that will be up for auction, including the gold and diamond Corum bracelet Yang received for winning the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event. A Corum watch he also received for that win is up for bids, as are eight other watches.

Now, without further details, it’s impossible to know exactly what caused Mr. Yang to run afoul of the IRS. But this case (and many others like it) should serve as a reminder and a wake-up call that none of us are immune to IRS controversy. The best course of action, of course, is to make sure that you “dot your I’s and cross your T’s” when filing your returns. Resist the temptation to cut corners as it will only cost you in the long run.

But if it’s too late and you’re already facing an IRS audit or tax dispute, don’t despair. Our experienced professionals will work with you every step of the way and help you put your tax controversy behind you. Please get in touch with us today if you’d like to learn more!

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