Federal Tax Evasion Lawyers | Billings Office | Serving Lockwood, MT
401 North 31st Street, Suite 1500, Billings, MT 59101
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Tax evasion is the willful attempt to evade or defeat taxes. Federal tax evasion is a serious criminal offense, with the possibility of jail time and severe financial penalties. The elements of tax evasion under the U.S. Code include showing that the defendant:
Tax evasion generally involves evasion of tax assessment or evasion of tax payment. Tax assessment evasion may involve false tax filings to reduce apparent tax liability, including:
Tax payment evasion involves trying to conceal available money to pay assessed taxes. Common examples of evasion of tax payments include:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division conducts tax evasion investigations. Investigations begin with information from revenue agents or officers who suspect possible fraud. Information about tax evasion can also come from whistleblowers who can get a reward for reporting tax evaders. Tax evasion may also be uncovered as part of other federal crimes, including white collar crimes.
Next, special agents analyze data to determine if there is evidence of a financial crime, including tax evasion or tax fraud. After a preliminary investigation, investigators determine if there is enough evidence to begin a criminal investigation. IRS investigators may interview witnesses, review financial data, review bank records, and use search warrants to collect evidence. Based on the evidence, the special agent may recommend prosecution.
IRS investigations can take from a few months to a few years. More complex tax evasion cases may take longer, including cases with multiple defendants, a tax evasion scheme, organized crime, and cases with a long history of multiple years of tax evasion.
Tax evasion generally requires a willful intent to defraud the federal government. A mistake on your tax return should not be enough for prison time. You will still be liable for the unpaid taxes, including any penalties or assessments. However, the prosecutor can still proceed with a tax evasion criminal charge if they suspect the mistake was done willfully and intentionally.
Federal tax evasion is a felony crime. A criminal conviction for tax evasion provides for a jail sentence of up to 5 years in federal prison. Other criminal tax fraud charges may also involve prison time.
However, you may still be able to avoid jail time after a tax evasion conviction. Federal sentencing guidelines provide a sentencing range, with adjustments available for aggravating or mitigating factors. A federal judge could lower the sentencing level if the defendant clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility or was a minor participant in any criminal activity.
If you are found guilty of tax evasion, you may be sentenced to jail time and fines. However, the IRS tax code also provides for civil penalties. The IRS can impose a fraud penalty of an additional 75% of the underpayment. For example, tax evasion of 1 million dollars could include an additional penalty of $750,000, for a total of 1.75 million dollars owed.
In most cases, the IRS will only audit tax returns going back 3 years. However, the IRS can go back 6 years to audit a taxpayer where there is a substantial error. In the case of fraud, there is no time limit. If a taxpayer has committed fraudulent tax evasion, the IRS can come after the taxpayer for unpaid taxes and penalties years or decades later.
Federal tax agents may contact taxpayers to get clarification on a tax return. This may include questions about the tax treatment or a request for additional documentation. Getting a letter from the IRS can be alarming, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. In some cases, a basic response may clear up the tax question with no further issues.
However, if you suspect the IRS may be conducting a tax evasion investigation or you believe there were problems with your prior tax returns, you may want to talk to a federal tax fraud attorney first. Many people talk to IRS agents even if they don’t think they should, just because they are concerned that getting a tax fraud lawyer will make them appear guilty.
Tax attorneys can provide more than a criminal defense. A defense attorney can represent you before the IRS so you do not end up saying something that could be used against you. Criminal defense attorneys can also negotiate with the IRS to agree to a tax repayment plan, even without having any criminal charges filed.
If federal tax fraud charges are filed, federal tax fraud lawyers can negotiate with the Justice Department or United States Attorney for a plea agreement. A plea deal may allow you to avoid the harshest penalties, reduce civil liability, and even avoid jail time. If you want to fight the charges of tax fraud, your criminal defense lawyer can build a strong legal defense.
It is in your best interest to get legal help early on in addressing your situation. There are times when hiring a lawyer quickly is critical to your case, such as if you are charged with a crime. It may also be in your best interest to have a lawyer review the fine print before signing legal documents. A lawyer can also help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve suffered a serious injury. For issues where money or property is at stake, having a lawyer guide you through the complexities of the legal system can save you time, hassle, and possibly a lot of grief in the long run.
Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.
The more experienced a lawyer is in legal practice, the more likely he/she will be able to bring about a successful resolution to your issue. Since experience matters, lawyers who’ve been practicing law for many years (with a successful track record) tend to be in high demand. You should look for information about a lawyer’s experience and ask questions during the initial meeting. It’s a very good idea to ask the lawyer how many years he/she has been practicing law and the expected outcome of your case.
Pro se – This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.
Statute – Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.
Subject matter jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.