If there is a problem with your federal taxes, you could find yourself in hot water with the IRS. It’s important to hire a tax attorney to help you with situations involving tax litigation, whether you’re dealing with federal entities like the IRS or local municipalities. A strong legal team will help you review your options and advocate for you to avoid major civil or criminal penalties.
Tax litigation is an unusual area of practice because it is so widespread. You might deal with tax issues in local court, state court, or federal court. All of these courts have different rules and regulations, and it can be overwhelming to try to navigate. Just knowing what paperwork to file with what agency is often too much for the average taxpayer. That’s part of why hiring a tax attorney gives you such a solid advantage.
The US Department of Justice and IRS have a significant conviction rate when they initiate criminal tax proceedings. More than 92 percent of the defendants are convicted. This is because the government does not issue criminal charges unless they are very confident they have evidence to convict. The prosecutors are experienced in these cases and know how to make a case that’s difficult for a defense to refute.
Another thing that makes the conviction rate so high is the resources at the agency’s disposal. They can spend ample money surveilling you and tracking your records. They might also do an interview in which they pretend to be on your side. Whatever you say during that interview will be used as evidence against you later. If you make any misstep, you’ll be penalized for lying to a federal agent, even if you thought you were giving accurate information at the time.
When you are contacted by a criminal investigator from the IRS, you should talk to a lawyer immediately. Never do an interview without your attorney present. And be aware that contact from a criminal investigator is significantly more serious than they may make it sound, even if they haven’t yet filed charges against you.
It takes a long time to defend a criminal tax case. After a criminal case is over, the IRS will open a civil case instead. The civil case has a much higher chance of success if the IRS gets a criminal conviction, and they usually do.
If you have the chance, the best move you can make is to get the matter resolved before charges are officially filed. There is a period of time between when the IRS begins investigating and when they believe they have enough evidence to press charges. Your lawyer may be able to intervene. You should never try to intervene yourself, though, as this is likely to just get you into deeper trouble.
When you talk to IRS investigators, you have to be aware that they are not trying to resolve the issue. They are not working in your favor. All they are doing is gathering evidence to use against you. Most IRS investigations don’t result in criminal proceedings, so for you to be the subject of a criminal investigation, the level of tax evasion must be serious.
The trial and investigation process both go through distinct phases. Attorneys can help with the unique challenges of all of them. They’re familiar with handling the prosecution during things like:
Even if you haven’t been charged with a criminal violation, a lawyer is a key advocate during the civil tax litigation process. They are your best hope of reducing your penalties and preventing your owed taxes from piling up further.
Criminal investigations are conducted by Special Agents with the IRS. They are legally allowed to lie to you about their intentions and your role in an investigation. If they contact you, it’s possible that they’re looking for information about a different target. But they might also tell you that in order to make you trust them. Any contact from a special agent is a sign that you need to talk to your lawyer.
That’s the case even when you’re convinced that the special agent doesn’t mean you any harm. They have special training to help them manipulate and confuse people. At the same time, they use every single thing you say to create a mountain of evidence against you. A special agent is aware that when they first contact you, that might be the only chance they get to speak with you. You have to tell them right away that you need to consult with your attorney, as anything else you say can be used against you.
Whatever your tax litigation issue, hiring a lawyer is the best way to protect yourself.
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