Madoff victims seek tax refunds

Hundreds of Californians who lost money in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme are asking state legislators to change laws so they can get refunds of past taxes paid on income from Madoff that they might never have received.

The victims say that for decades Madoff used steady, solid earnings to entice investors, causing his fund to grow with money from new customers being paid out as dividends to earlier clients until it collapsed late last year.

More than 400 of Madoff's victims who live in California are seeking passage of a bill that would allow them to get back tax payments on so-called phantom income -- profits that appeared on their annual account statements but didn't actually exist and were never paid to the investor -- from the last five years, according to a Los Angeles Times story.
The refunds are currently allowed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service but not by the California Franchise Tax Board, which collects state income taxes.

"I've been victimized once by Mr. Madoff. I don't want to be victimized a second time by the state of California," said Gordon Bennett, 62, a retired natural-foods company executive who lost $1.5 million he invested with Madoff.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March in federal court in Manhattan to 11 securities-related fraud counts. He is in jail awaiting a June 16 sentencing hearing.
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