South Florida Sees Heavy Tax Fraud Investigation
Tax fraud investigations are common and in April of 2016, five men were convicted of running a $108 million dollar fraud scheme out of a South Florida home. Prosecutors claim it is one of the largest tax refund fraud organizations in our nation’s history. The men used more than 29,000 stolen identities to collect the tax refunds over a three-year period and used a rap label business as their front. The defendants each received years in prison along with fines and having to pay restitution.
Identity theft is common in the state of Florida and as such, federal investigators are often on the lookout for violators. In the story above, much of what tipped off investigators was the appearance of Wyoming and other out-of-state individuals depositing their refund money into Florida banks. Of course, Florida is a second home to many and investigators would need more evidence than the location of your bank deposits to arrest you.
What Constitutes Tax Fraud?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets forth several laws that dictate what is considered tax fraud. The primary categories of the violations include:
- Tax evasion
- Willful failure to collect or pay taxes
- Willful failure to file a tax return or supply tax information
- Fraud and false statements
- Attempts to interfere with administration of Internal Revenue laws
- Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States
The key language in many of these statutes is “willful” and “intent.” The IRS does not generally prosecute offenders for negligent acts. That being said, whether a person acted negligently or willfully is a legal argument that a Miami criminal defense attorney specializing in tax fraud and white collar crimes can help you make.
Tax Fraud Convictions Result in Jail Time and Big Fines
Tax fraud offenses can result in prison terms of up to five years and if you are convicted on multiple charges, those terms add up quickly. In addition to the time behind bars, fines can be up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. Again, these fines are per offense.
Tax fraud does not always occur on a large scale. Signing a tax return with a name other than your own is an act of perjury. It is unlikely that the IRS would come after you for such a small violation, but if the IRS does decide to investigate your activities, they will likely spend several months, or longer, reviewing your acts with a fine tooth comb.
Early Defense is Key in Defending White Collar Crimes
When the federal investigators make a big sting, they are often primed for more investigations. Further, in an attempt to prosecute as many violators as possible, they often throw the net too large. Sometimes, too, your involvement in illegal activities is not as serious as others yet you are being charged with the most serious offenses. In every instance, you need an experienced Miami defense attorney. Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. has four decades of criminal defense experience, including experience defending white collar crimes, in Florida state courts and in federal courts. If you have been charged with or suspect that you may be charged with tax fraud, do not delay. Call our office today for a free consultation