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Income tax fraud is not an uncommon crime in the United States. In fact, it might be one of the most common financial crimes that take place each year. Many taxpayers resent the government taxing their hard earned dollars and this frustration can lead them to embellish or minimize certain facts on their income tax forms. As a result, they end up paying less money than the government believes they should have or else they get a larger refund than the government states they should have received. This is a SERIOUS situation. If you’re charged with income tax fraud by the IRS, there’s no time to waste. Hiring a lawyer is a necessity.
The IRS can’t possibly keep track of every income tax form in the United States. They can’t verify everything that people report. However, certain red flags go up on certain reports that lead the IRS to accuse a person or couple with income tax fraud. These allegations are unproven. It’s the burden of the IRS to prove that you’ve committed income tax fraud. Your defense lawyer’s job is to look at the accusations and then collect evidence for your defense.
Prison is a possibility if you’re accused of tax fraud. Some people may spend more than 10 years behind bars for certain types of tax fraud. This will depend on how much money the IRS feels you defrauded them out of and how long the fraud went on. If you fear that you might be charged with tax fraud, it’s time to call a highly experienced tax fraud lawyer who has worked on these cases before and knows how to get the best possible outcome for you in your specific case.
Even if you haven’t been charged yet, it’s never too late to be proactive about potential charges. For example, if you KNOW you made errors in your taxes or that you forgot to file returns during a specific tax year, you may be able to correct the errors before you’re audited. Once you’re audited, though, it’s an all out investigation by the IRS to double check all of the information on your tax returns. No one wants an audit, even someone who has done nothing wrong. It’s stressful and leads some people to have difficulty carrying on with their lives until the audit is over. A lawyer on your team can honestly be there for you and make sure that you have the full protection of a legal adviser during the critical audit period.
A host of things can alert the IRS to potential tax fraud. If you fail to file a return, it is only a matter of time before the IRS realizes this. If you don’t have supporting records for many of the claims on your returns, the IRS will eventually know this. The fact is that even though it’s difficult for the IRS to deal with fraud in a TIMELY manner, they do eventually find people who routinely cheat on their taxes. The good news is that even if you have been unable to have accurate returns at times, a good lawyer can protect you from the most severe of consequences. This doesn’t mean that someone legitimately guilty of tax fraud isn’t going to have some consequences, but a good lawyer can usually keep you out of prison and help you make up for your mistakes in a legal manner. A lawyer can also help you during an audit and give you tips on how to set off the red flags that the IRS looks for during the audit.
If you are charged, you will need an IRS fraud lawyer to protect you from the harshest of penalties. You want to hire the best attorney you can possibly get for this type of matter. The consequences for tax fraud are serious and you’re being investigated by the best the government has on hand. It’s an uphill battle when you’re charged. Only an experienced, expert defense attorney is going to help see you through this difficult time. Call one today before it’s too late. The longer you wait, the more time the government has to gather incriminating information and statements with no defense on your part.
Should I Consult an Attorney If I Am Accused of Tax Evasion?
Committing tax evasion, either intentionally or through negligence, can land you in serious trouble. The IRS accounts for every cent owed to the federal government, so, sooner or later, they will come after violators. If you find yourself facing tax evasion charges, or simply want to get ahead of the government and settle matters without waiting for prosecution, hiring an experienced tax attorney may be your best bet. Through years of education and experience, the right attorney can help you set things right and limit the penalties to which you may be subjected.
What can a Tax Attorney do for you?
The possibility of facing tax evasion charges is frightening, but no one has to endure this type of legal issue alone. While some may choose to enlist the help of a certified public accountant (CPA), that’s probably not the best idea in criminal cases instigated by the government. The CPA can be required to testify against clients in court, which may do more harm than good.
Instead, consider hiring a tax attorney. The attorney/client privilege protects you against such actions, because, just like in any legal matter, an attorney can’t be compelled to disclose confidential information. Anything you discuss with your tax attorney, including any information he may discover about your case, can only be used with your consent in the defense of your case.
Additionally, years of experience gives tax attorneys access to government programs that may allow for a more agreeable compromise. Certainly, an experienced CPA may know of some helpful settlement arrangements, but they won’t be well-versed in the full range of programs and allowances offered by the government. A tax attorney, on the other hand, stays current on new programs for which his clients may qualify. Some programs may reduce the individual’s liability and alleviate some of the stress and financial burden associated with straightening out their tax discrepancies.
When is it Time to Hire a Tax Attorney?
The issue of when to hire a tax attorney is usually pretty straightforward. In almost every circumstance, the individual knows there is a problem with his or tax returns and realizes it’s only a matter of time, before the IRS catches up with them. It’s wise to consult a tax attorney as early as possible, but this begs another question: which attorney?
All tax attorneys are not created equal and hiring the wrong tax lawyer can be worse than trying to represent yourself in a criminal tax evasion case. Just like in any profession, there are disreputable or unknowledgeable professionals in the legal field and you certainly don’t want one of these attorneys working for you, when your freedom and financial future is at stake.
During the initial consultation, the tax attorney will want to know the details about you and the matter for which you need representation. While this is the primary purpose of that first meeting, it’s also the time for you, as a potential client, to interview the lawyer. Ask about his or her education and experiences with tax law clients. Of special interest, ask about how many clients they have represented in tax evasion cases and how many of those cases resulted in wins for the client.
Once you have chosen a reputable tax attorney, he will likely take over, ensuring deadlines are met efficiently and correspondence with the IRS is both timely and productive. Additionally, an experienced attorney may discover errors committed by the IRS that will work in your favor. As a bureaucracy, the IRS does make its own share of mistakes and, in some cases, it may take an experienced professional to spot them.
Tax evasion is considered a white collar crime and, as such, is a felony in most cases, so it’s important to consult an attorney as soon as possible. By ensuring your defense will be handled by a tax lawyer committed to achieving your best possible outcome, you may be able to avoid a lengthy prison term or a hefty six-figure fine. Tax evasion isn’t something to be taken lightly and facing criminal charges of any kind isn’t something anyone should attempt to do alone.
Types of Tax Evasion
The IRS faces two kinds of problems in collecting taxes for the government: negligence and tax fraud. While negligence is a less serious incident, resulting from genuine mistakes, tax fraud is more serious and covers a number of deliberate acts. From filing tax returns with false information to declining to pay due taxes, tax fraudcovers every willful act. Some acts are more common than others, however. Here are just a few ways individuals and businesses attempt to defraud the government.
1. False Income Reporting
This is, by far, the most common form of tax fraud, committed by millions of people and companies every year. In the United States, entities, whether they be individuals or corporations, are required to report all sources of income. Among items required to be reported on tax returns is income earned from sales of goods and services, gambling winnings, and tips.
Where there is no record of income, such as is the case where tips are given in exchange for exceptional service, misrepresenting income becomes very common. Depending on the situation, gambling winnings can also be underreported. except in instances where the gambling took place in an established casino, there is rarely a paper trail to show the transfer of winnings.
While this is a common practice, the misrepresentation of income, termed as underreporting by the IRS, isn’t always intentional or of a criminal nature. It can be an honest mistake to estimate what has been earned in tips and gambling winnings lower than the actual amount earned. Even so, if the IRS is able to make a case of tax fraud, even genuine errors can result in several years of imprisonment and a hefty fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for businesses.
2. Providing False Information
Where underreporting income can be an accidental occurrence, this type of tax fraud involves deliberately filing a tax return with false information. This includes guessing your total income for the year, because a significant error can result in criminal charges. Commonly known as “fudging numbers,” the IRS considers this to be falsifying a document and they will investigate any suspicious reporting.
When an issue of falsifying a document or filing a false tax return does go to court, the cards are stacked against the defendant. As the prosecution will have the documents filed by the defendant, it’s extremely difficult to disprove the charges. Even where the defendant claims that writing down the false income numbers was unintentional, it’s another thing to be able to prove it. The matter becomes further complicated, if the false number works in favor of the defendant, resulting in lower taxes or additional tax breaks.
Again, this type of tax fraud results in prison terms and a significant fine of up to $250,000 for individual offenders. As with any tax fraud conviction, the court also reserves the right to force the defendant to pay for the costs of prosecuting the case.
3. Committing Identity Theft
There a few a different ways identity theft is committed in regard to tax returns. Some extreme cases involve filing under a false social security number. More commonly, people claim exemptions for children or other dependents who are either not in their care or do not exist at all. By claiming additional dependents, an individual can qualify for lower tax brackets and breaks, reducing the amount to be paid at the end of the year. In many cases, claiming fictitious dependents can alternatively qualify the individual for tax refunds which they would otherwise not receive.
As with the previous examples of tax fraud, this form of deception qualifies as a felony. A conviction results in a prison term of up to three years in prison and up to a $250,000 for the individual. In the rare instances where a business attempts this kind of identity theft, the resulting fine can be as high as $500,000.
If you’re facing tax fraud charges, the best thing you can do is to consult an experienced tax attorney. Together, you can look at the circumstances of your specific situation and determine the best course of action. While it may not be possible to achieve a dismissal of the charges or a complete acquittal, a tax attorney may be able to get you a better deal than you could negotiate on your own.
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