Federal Tax Evasion Defense Attorney
Federal tax evasion is a common concept. It is a shorthand phrase for all sorts of tax fraud. And most people have an idea of what it means.
In truth it’s a lot more complicated than what most of us think when someone mentions federal tax evasion.
For instance, did you know that it is a federal tax crime to attempt to evade or defeat a tax? Seriously. Some people say it’s an obligation to defeat taxes. Many believe you can’t be a successful business-person, professional, or investor without a tax plan that includes defeating taxes.
In truth, most people mean something else when they talk about avoiding taxes. What they actually mean is that they work with tax professionals to legally defer paying taxes or ensure that their income and expense are categorized in the most beneficial way from a tax standpoint.
The crime is attempting to evade or defeat a “tax imposed” or the payment of a “tax imposed.” 26 U.S.C. §7201. This statute requires the government to prove that first the tax was due and owed to the government. The crime is committed when a person makes a willful attempt to avoid a tax assessment or makes a willful attempt to evade or defeat the payment of the tax.
Anyone can be pulled into a tax evasion investigation. While the vast majority of people audited are people with lower or modest incomes, your chances of being audited rises with your income. Every audit is scary.
While few people enjoy paying taxes, almost everyone wants to follow the rules: report what you made, deduct what you can, and pay as little as possible.
For some people those goals cause problems. Tax evasion investigations are complicated, document intensive, and often last years. They create a lot of stress for the individuals working to justify their tax strategies.
It can be scary! We understand that and can guide you through this process. Some of these investigations end without allegations of fraud, by requiring the payment of penalties, or in civil claims. Others result in criminal charges.
Under any of these situations, an audit, an investigation, or civil or criminal charges, you need the help of experienced white-collar criminal defense attorneys to help.
Many people refer to tax fraud and tax evasion interchangeably but the terms are different.
Suffice it to say, the government charges the crime that is easiest to prove. Some differences between tax fraud and tax evasion means that the government often chooses to charge people with filing false tax returns.
The government uses various actions to show that a person knew that they were attempting to avoid a tax assessment or payment. Common allegations include depositing business income into personal accounts and not reporting the income. Taking deductions as business expenses that are personal expenses. Under reporting business income while claiming much more income in loan applications. Living above the means supported by the amount of income reported.
Tax evasion is a serious allegation and a conviction can result in serious consequences. Criminal penalties in federal court are founded to a great extent on the amount of loss, or the amount of taxes avoided by the conduct. Of course, the losses include years, usually six, of unpaid taxes.
These investigations are document intensive. While cases may include simple schemes like diverting cash from the cash register, most transactions leave an electronic footprint. That means the government compiles bank records, business accounts, and tax returns to analyze. Agents sift through these documents in search of irregularities, diverted income, inflated expenses, and inconsistent records.
The person responsible for preparing and filing the tax returns is critical to the investigation. Remember, a necessary element to proving a crime of attempting to evade or defeat a tax requires the government to prove the person acted willfully.
That means the government will want to know what information the tax preparer possessed when determining or advising the person of their tax assessments.
Did the tax preparer have accurate information? If not, was the accurate information withheld intentionally? Was the tax preparer giving the person incorrect advice?
Given the multitude of documents involved in almost anyone’s life these days, these investigations include many cancelled checks, receipts, accounting records, bank statements, credit card statements, and tax returns. The agents consider the person’s spending habits, sources of income, methods of recording income and expenses, and methods of communicating with the tax preparer.
Counsel must be prepared to analyze this information and consider alternatives to willful conduct as well take into consideration lawful efforts to avoid paying taxes.
We have advised people during these investigations, consulted with forensic tax experts, and defended claims of civil and criminal tax fraud.
We understand the monumental task of gathering documents for an independent review, the worry associated with not knowing where the government’s investigation will lead, and the danger of losing everything you have worked for. We are prepared to help you challenge these investigations and defend you at trial when necessary.
We understand you risk losing everything. We are criminal white-collar attorneys prepared to help you achieve your best possible results and get back to leading a productive life.