Actual or possible criminal investigation?
Unfiled taxes, fraud or other misrepresentations on your tax return can be a criminal offense and may be investigated by the IRS. They are punishable by Federal law and can lead to prison sentences.
There are many different types of fraud, including:
- Employment tax evasion
- Gaming related fraud
- Non-filer enforcement
- Questionable tax refunds
The focus is on detecting and prosecuting tax evasion and fraud cases.
What are the Penalties for Tax Crimes?
One of the best ways to understand why experienced, aggressive legal help is so important when it comes to taking on the IRS is by knowing the consequences you may face without it.
Depending on the tax-related crime in question, criminal penalties may include:
- One to five years in federal prison
- Maximum $100,000 or $250,000 fines (or $500,000 in the case of corporations)
- Prosecution-related costs
- Civil fraud penalties equal to 75% of the tax due, plus interest
- All of the above
While these penalties are severe, they only represent half of the equation. Being convicted of a federal crime can have a significant ripple effect on your life. You may find it difficult to obtain new employment, particularly if you work in an industry that involves finance or other money-related matters. Obtaining loans or even housing may become more difficult. These are very real and serious impacts of a criminal conviction.
There Is An Alternative: How Our Firm Can Help
It is important to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible if you have been notified by the IRS that you are under investigation for possible tax evasion, fraud or other criminal activity. The earlier we identify potential issues, the more options you may have for relief that avoids criminal prosecution. For example:
- If your spouse or ex-spouse made fraudulent representations in a joint tax return and you face IRS scrutiny, we can help you pursue innocent spouse relief.
- If you have offshore accounts, we can help bring you into compliance with the tax code through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP).
- We can help you challenge the results of a tax audit that resulted in a substantial tax liability.
Stages in the criminal tax process.
The first stage of this process is an audit, which is just a civil tax assessment process.
If you are being audited and are complying with the IRS, typically you will have nothing to worry about beyond taxes, civil penalties, and interest thereon. But when the IRS discovers what it believes to be criminal violation, they may make a referral to the IRS criminal investigation division (“CID”).
The CID investigation is the second state of the criminal tax process. The CID is staffed by IRS special agents. IRS special agents investigate cases referred to them by IRS personnel or tax returns that are flagged by the IRS computer systems as being suspicious.
If you receive a notice from or are contacted by the CID, this means that you are being investigated for a crime and should consult a criminal tax attorney for representation as soon as possible.
How IRS criminal investigations work.
Suspicious information on tax returns or practices that tend to indicate that there is tax evasion or fraud often lead to criminal referrals or investigations.
If suspicious, the IRS will conduct a primary investigation and then decide, based on investigation, whether to continue pursuing the criminal case. This is often handled by revenue agents and revenue officers. These IRS employees must generally get management approval to refer the case to the CID and proceed with the case as a criminal investigation.
During the criminal investigation, IRS special agents will attempt to gather possible evidence from everyone around you, such as your family and people who can be found at or associated with your place of work. They may also investigate and collect computer documentation, check into your social media accounts, subpoena your bank records, and perform various surveillance activities. Special agents are also trained to use highly specialized security measures to investigate secure and encrypted electronic data.
When the CID is conducting a criminal investigation, the case will go through several administrative levels before being evaluated by the IRS’s national office in Washington, D.C. This can be a slow process–which is good to the extent that it means there are a lot of opportunities to stop the process and have the case switched back to a civil tax investigation.
Act now if you suspect the IRS is going to pursue a criminal case.
Whether you are at the initial phases of being contacted by the IRS or if you are actively being investigated for a tax crime, you have the right to representation. You need to know your rights and have a criminal tax attorney on your side.
We are former IRS attorneys, appeals officers, and auditors who help taxpayers with criminal tax matters. We offer compassionate, individualized service at manageable rates.
If you suspect you are being investigated for a tax crime or will be, call today for a confidential consultation. Our number is 281-631-3300.