The US Department of Justice issued a press release recently announcing the guilty plea of Hall of Fame football player Ron Mix, who is 78 years old and now a lawyer. According to the press release:
According to court documents, Ron Mix, 78, entered into an arrangement where he received professional athlete referrals from a non-attorney so Mix and his law firm, the Law Offices of Ron Mix, could file workers’ compensation claims in California on the former athletes’ behalf. After receiving these referrals, Mix agreed to make donations to Project Contact Africa (PCA), as directed by the non-attorney. Mix admitted that between 2010 and 2013, he made approximately $155,000 in donations to PCA and that these payments represented illegal referral payments that he falsely claimed on his personal income tax return as charitable deductions.
This is a very unfortunate turn of events, because Ron Mix had represented a unique kind of football player. According to his biography in the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, he was nicknamed “The Intellectual Assassin,” having not only earned his undergraduate degree from USC but also, after starting his professional football career, continued his education and eventually obtained a law degree. He played for both the Raiders and the Chargers, and had several AFL title games and all-star games under his belt.
When a lawyer violates the tax laws, however, the IRS rarely turns a blind eye, no matter how many touchdowns you have made. Willfulness is a key element in tax cases and the IRS places a lot of emphasis on the sophistication of the taxpayer, and lawyers would be deemed to be very sophisticated. Mr. Mix has yet to be sentenced, but he may be getting some lenience due to his age and his prior contributions to society.
Daniel Layton is the author of this post. He is the principal attorney in Tax Attorney OC and is a former Federal prosecutor and former IRS attorney.