Tax Fraud Prosecutions Back in the Spotlight
With tax season heating up, the fight against tax fraud is back in the spotlight. Recently, a rash of convictions for tax fraud offenses, both large and small, have spread through the south Florida’s courts. In one case, three tax preparers filed fraudulent tax returns, using hundreds of stolen Social Security numbers. The perpetrators then collected at least $300,000 in tax return checks, unbeknownst to the rightful recipients. Their sentencing is scheduled for April, when a judge will decide their penalty. The men face prison sentences of up to 86 years.
If you or someone you care about is being investigated by the IRS, or if charges of tax fraud have been filed, it is important to speak with a lawyer immediately, before interacting with investigators. IRS prosecutors can and will use any piece of information when building a case against you.
Tax Fraud Under Federal Law
To be found guilty of tax fraud in a federal court, IRS prosecutors must show that you willfully filed “any return, statement, or other document, which contains or is verified by a written declaration that is made under the penalties of perjury, and which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter.” (Title 26 USC § 7206(1)). There are many ways to meet this definition, including underreporting your income, overestimating your deductions or expenses, making a false statement to an investigator, violating employer obligations, or failing to file a return at all.
Penalties for Tax Fraud
Each type of tax fraud offense has different penalties that attach to them. In general, you can expect to face prison time, fines, restitution of fraudulently obtained money, prosecution costs, and possibly probation, if you are charged and convicted for tax evasion or tax fraud.
Prison terms can range from up to five years for a single count of tax evasion, to decades for multiple violations. Fines for tax evasion can reach $250,00 for individuals, or $500,000 for businesses, and other tax fraud crimes can carry fines of $100,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations. On top of fines, courts usually order people convicted of tax fraud to pay restitution damages, or the full amount that they either failed to pay or fraudulently received. Federal law also allows for tax fraud punishments to include the costs of prosecution, which regularly run over $5,000. Finally, a conviction for tax fraud can also carry a probation requirement, usually between one and three years. Violations of probation can result in even harsher penalties
Speak to a Tax Fraud Defense Attorney
If you are being investigated by the IRS or have been charged with tax fraud, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Like other white collar crimes, a conviction for tax fraud can result in huge fines and prison sentences, so it needs to be taken very seriously. Contact the law office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. for advice and representation by a knowledgeable south Florida criminal defense attorney, to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your case.