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So, you’ve been charged with tax fraud. Your first instinct is likely to panic, which is understandable. Is the IRS just coming to collect from you, or could you actually go to jail for this? Yes, tax fraud is a serious charge and can carry some serious penalties, including jail. However, the more you know about it and the process, the more in control you will feel and the more likely you will be able to navigate the legal obstacle course up ahead.

1) Get a lawyer. If you have not done so already, your first stop should be at the office of an attorney who has experience defending individuals against tax fraud charges. Your parent’s best friend who is a real estate attorney is not going to be of much use to you in this situation. Only someone who has experience in this particular area of the law to help protect your rights through the process as much as possible. This attorney should also be able to advise you of your options at each step of the proceeding to help you make the most informed decision about how to proceed.

2) Understand what tax fraud is. Fraud is when someone deliberately seeks to deceive someone for financial gain. For example, underreporting earnings on your income tax returns is a form of tax fraud. Other forms of tax fraud include failing to pay taxes that are owed, doctoring records to show a lower tax burden, submitting fraudulent returns, identity theft, and fraudulently claiming tax credits that are not owed.

3) What are the possible punishments? This varies greatly depending upon the amount that you are ultimately convicted of defrauding the government out of. Remember that you could be facing more than just civil penalties. For example, underreporting your income on a tax return could have potential penalties of up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, plus whatever amount in taxes is owed.  

4) What happens once you are charged? Your attorney will ask the prosecutor for all of the documents that they have related to your case to begin to understand the nature of the case that the government is trying to bring against you. Depending on the evidence, your attorney might recommend a plea agreement or settlement. Your attorney may also recommend that you proceed to trial. This decision will be based on factors such as the evidence, potential outcome, and possible defenses.

Whenever you are charged with a crime, the best possible way to help yourself is to find and retain an experienced lawyer. The attorneys at Puglisi Law can help you if you find yourself in this situation. Contact our firm today to get started.