Tax Fraud Lawyers
Any individual can be a target of the IRS. The majority of people charged with federal tax fraud are otherwise law abiding citizens. You may want to know what the difference is between tax fraud and a simple mistake. In general, tax fraud or tax evasion involves an intentional wrongdoing. Simple carelessness does not constitute tax fraud. Nevertheless, the IRS is the one who decides whether tax fraud has been committed. They do this by searching for “badges” of tax fraud.
In the event that the IRS places you under criminal investigation for tax fraud, you are at risk of being federally prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ attorneys have a 90% conviction rate and usually mandate prison sentences for tax offenders.
Tax Fraud: Defined
A simple, working definition of tax fraud is an action perpetrated or attempted that is in violation of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) for the purpose of enabling the taxpayer to evade his or her full tax liabilities. Fraud takes place when the taxpayer acts intentionally, or “willfully,” to deceive government agents or ignore tax laws. This stands in contrast to tax errors that arise from carelessness, or negligence. That said, even if no fraud has occurred, negligent conduct can still end up in serious penalties. Under such threat, strict tax compliance is a must.
The term “tax fraud” is frequently used to indicate tax evasion. This is a specific offense defined by federal law at 26 U.S. Code § 7201. Under the legal definition provided, a person commits tax evasion when they “willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof,” like income taxes.
How Does the IRS Find Fraud Cases?
When the IRS, or one of its corresponding state agencies, such as the California Franchise Tax Board, detects suspicious information on a tax return, or determines that one or more of a taxpayer’s returns have not been filed in a timely fashion, this can trigger an audit. The audit may turn up signs of any tax fraud that has occurred. The IRS trains its agents to be able to spot numerous “badges”, or indicators, of tax fraud. If any badges are detected, this may result in referral of the case to the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).
Dozens of badges of fraud can be used to bring a case against a taxpayer. A complete list of these badges can be viewed in Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 25.1.2 (Recognizing and Developing Fraud), specifically 18.104.22.168 (Indicators of Fraud). A few of the badges that will warn the IRS of potential tax fraud include:
Different Types of IRS Tax Fraud
The IRS can come after you for the following violations of the Tax Code:
Enlist the Services of an Experienced Tax Fraud Attorney to Go Up Against the IRS
If you are facing any of these tax troubles, and you get audited by the IRS, you need to contact a tax fraud attorney. Any actions you take during the course of an audit can turn a normal tax controversy into a full blown tax fraud case. For example, if you lie or give evasive answers to IRS investigators, use delay tactics, or try any other actions that are designed to mislead IRS agents, these can be indications of tax fraud.
What Penalties are there for Tax Evasion?
The crime of tax evasion is a felony offense. Pursuant to federal law, the maximum prison term for a conviction on tax evasion charges is five years for each count. This may be accompanied by a fine of up to $100,000. If the defendant is a corporation, the maximum fine is $500,000.
Note that tax evasion is merely one example of a offense under the broader “tax fraud” umbrella. For instance, to willfully fail to collect or pay over tax is also a felony according to 26 U.S. Code § 7202). This is known as “payroll tax fraud.” The maximum prison sentence for this crime is five years, with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Willful failure to file a return, supply information, or pay taxes is yet another example of tax fraud. This violates 26 U.S. Code § 7203. This statute makes this offense a misdemeanor. It is subject to a maximum fine of $25,000 ($100,000 for corporations) and a possible jail sentence of one year.
One other statute frequently violated is 26 U.S. Code § 7206. This pertains to fraud and false statements pursuant to 26 U.S. Code § 7206(1). It is a crime to willfully make and subscribe a false return. The law in 26 U.S. Code § 7206(2) makes it illegal to help a taxpayer to do so. Both of these crimes are felonies. They carry maximum fines of $100,000 ($500,000 for corporations) and/or maximum sentences of three years behind bars per count.
These are all different forms of tax fraud that constitute intentional efforts to avoid properly filing and paying your taxes.
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