Criminal Tax Defense
Our criminal tax defense attorneys know that criminal tax cases are different than other types of tax problems. Criminal tax cases can result not only in large tax debts (including a 75% civil fraud penalty ), but more importantly, years in jail. Of course there are the collateral consequences of a criminal tax conviction. These include loss of professional licenses to practice law, medicine, or accounting. Your right to vote will be stripped, as well as your right to bear arms. And there is a good chance of loss of employment. If you are not a citizen, but a legal resident alien, i.e. a green card holder chances are that after you serve your time in jail you will be deported. The goal of our criminal tax attorneys to mitigate these possibilities before it’s too late.
Sometimes criminal tax cases start with a knock at the front door of your home at 7:00 AM. Two IRS special agents who are employees of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CI) will be standing there and showing their gold badges, and asking if they can come in to talk. Although the IRS special agents may read you your 5th Amendment rights they are not required to. Our criminal tax defense lawyers never cease to be amazed at how many people will sit in their own homes, and spill their guts to an IRS special agent whose job is to figure out how he or she can send them up the river for tax fraud. In the words of the Internal Revenue Manual: “[t]he testimony of witnesses and the confessions or admissions of alleged violators are major factors in resolving tax investigations.”
Remember that by the time a special agent shows up the IRS has already done a good deal of investigation. The IRS special agent has information which has led the IRS to believe that there is a possible violation of tax, money laundering or bank secrecy laws. The reason that people often speak with IRS special agents before they obtain the services of a criminal tax defense attorney is several-fold. One reason is the misguided belief that they can simply explain what happened, offer to pay the tax debt, and the special agents will be happy, and go away. Not likely! Most taxpayers can’t come to grips with the idea that what they thought was a little fudging on their tax return is actually a tax crime punishable by years in jail. After all there was a reason. Some of those reasons our criminal tax defense attorneys have heard include:
- Business was down, and I still needed to pay my kid’s college tuition
- My mother/father was ill, and I wasn’t focused on the tax returns
- My records were a mess so I just guessed at how much I made
- I’m just a small fish the IRS won’t go after me
- My neighbor, competitor, brother-in-law is doing the same thing
- I had a tax audit 10 years ago, and the IRS didn’t say what I was doing anything wrong.
Generally speaking these are excuses, not defenses to criminal tax charges. The other problem is that any statements made to IRS special agents will be carefully written down. If the statements are not 100% accurate they will be thrown back in the face of the defendant (yes now you have become a defendant), as evidence that he lied to the IRS, and used as further proof of guilt.
If you are contacted by an IRS special agent just remember that the best thing you can say is that you are not ready to speak with him. The next thing to do is immediately call a criminal tax attorney. The IRS takes criminal tax violations very seriously, and you should too.
Even if you haven’t yet been contacted by a special agent about a criminal tax case if you are notified of a tax audit, and you have ANY concerns about the contents of your tax return it’s best to contact a tax lawyer BEFORE you speak with the IRS, or even your tax preparer. Remember that your tax preparer will be high on the list of witnesses for the IRS special agents to interview, and there is no attorney client privilege which would prevent him from testifying against you.