The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) expects to lose an estimated $21 billion in the 2016 tax season as a result of tax fraud, reports CNBC. Because of the high potential for loss, the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit diligently seeks out, investigates, and indicts individuals and businesses who have tried to defraud the system. If you are facing tax evasion charges, speak with a tax evasion lawyer in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel right away.
What constitutes tax evasion?
Tax evasion involves intentionally underpaying your taxes. In its Tax Crimes Handbook, the IRS explains that there are two kinds of tax evasion offenses: “(a) the willful attempt to evade or defeat the assessment of a tax, and (b) the willful attempt to evade or defeat the payment of a tax.”
Many actions can constitute tax evasion, such as the following.
- Underreporting your income
- Not filing your tax return
- Providing falsified or inadequate records
- Concealing your assets
- Handling business matters in cash to avoid taxation
- Not making required tax payments
- Not cooperating with, lying to, or delaying matters with IRS authorities
- Engaging in illegal tax activities
What are the penalties for tax evasion?
Tax evasion convictions can mean harsh penalties and steep fines. Section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code [26 U.S.C. § 7201] provides the specifics on penalties for intentional evasion of taxes:
Any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.
Furthermore, the IRS may impose sanctions against businesses involved in tax evasion, which will almost certainly result in public scrutiny and a loss of credibility.
Florida law has its own penalties regarding certain forms of tax fraud, such as:
- Failing to Make a Return and File Due Taxes: The accused faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge, resulting in one year in prison and/or $1,000. If convicted, the accused must pay six percent “per annum of amount due” (six percent of the amount for each year due). [Florida Statute § 202.27(5)]
- False or Fraudulent Return: Penalties depend on the number of offenses and the amount of money involved. For example, a first offense (must be less than $300) is a second-degree misdemeanor, but if the money involved is over $300, it is automatically a felony under Florida law. [Florida Statute § 28(2)(c)]
Are there any solid legal defenses against tax evasion charges?
In order to convict you of tax evasion, the prosecutors have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these three elements are true:
- You have unpaid taxes.
- You did something or tried to do something to evade taxes.
- You purposefully and intentionally tried to evade taxes that you knew you had to pay.
Most tax evasion defenses revolve around proving that the defendant lacked the intent to evade the taxes. We will research the facts of your case and determine the best way to handle the IRS’s investigations and craft a defense.
Can Goldman Wetzel help with my tax evasion case?
The fraud/theft defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel represent defendants who are facing charges for all types of tax fraud offenses, including tax evasion. If you are in need of a tax evasion lawyer in St. Petersburg, contact our office today at 727-828-3900.