Crime Overview Tax Evasion/Fraud

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According to the IRS, the biggest tax evasion offenders in the country represent roughly 1% of the population meaning they are among the rich and famous. Some famous people who have been convicted of tax evasion are actor Wesley Snipes, gangster Al Capone, baseball superstar Pete Rose and Tom Coughlin, the vice-chairman of Wal-Mart, Inc. While it is not uncommon for people from other economic backgrounds to evade taxes, the IRS reports that is has identified hundreds of tax cheats ranging from executives of publicly traded companies, entertainers, and business owners, to doctors, lawyers and investment professionals. It is estimated that billions of taxes go uncollected each year, and it is the people who actually pay their taxes who end up suffering.

So what exactly is tax evasion/fraud? Tax evasion/fraud occurs when an individual or business intentionally avoids paying federal, state, or local taxes through illegal means. Some of these means include overstating their deductions or declaring lesser income, gains, or profits than was actually attained. Tax evasion is a federal crime punishable by fines, prison time, and asset forfeiture.

The Internal Revenue Code section 7209 defines tax evasion as 'Any person who willfully attempts to in any manner evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof shall, in addition to other penalties provided by the 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 imprisonment not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.'

On the opposite side of tax evasion and fraud is tax avoidance, which is defined as a process where one has worked out their finances so they can apply the full exemptions and deductions that tax laws provide to diminish taxable income. Tax avoidance avoids the establishment of a tax liability, and is completely legal and should not be confused for tax evasion and fraud, which is a tax that is legally owed already.

Most countries consider tax evasion a crime, though many deal with it differently. China's punishment in some tax fraud cases has been the death penalty, while Switzerland handles it as a simple civil matter. Many underdeveloped countries have the problem of tax officials who are corrupt, meaning they don't report tax evasion in return for bribes or other means of illegal gratification.

Another way many individuals get into trouble with their taxes is by entrusting their taxes to professional tax preparers, who instead file fraudulent tax returns. The IRS encourages taxpayers to pay attention and be cautious when choosing a tax preparer, such as to avoid preparers who charge one based on the fee of the amount of a refund, or who allege that they can collect larger refunds than other preparers.

If you have been accused of tax evasion/fraud, whether you are guilty or not, you should hire a criminal lawyer or attorney to help you with your case. Criminal lawyers and attorneys represent individuals who have been charged with crimes by arguing their cases in courts of law. There are many things to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer or attorney. A good criminal attorney will be familiar with important tax laws of the state in which the crime took place, as well as any recent changes to the statutes or precedents which may affect your case.

Criminal lawyers and attorneys will also be familiar with local court customs and procedures. They will spend significant amounts of time on your case, hire and manage investigators, and research and gather vital information from any necessary witnesses.

To find a criminal lawyer or attorney to help you with your case, visit the American Bar Association. The American Bar Association website offers free access to their lawyer locater. The lawyer locater can help you search for a suitable criminal lawyer or attorney in your area.