If the IRS suspects you of intentionally underpaying your taxes, you must take it seriously, but you can often settle these matters administratively without criminal penalties.

Consult an Alexandria tax fraud and evasion lawyer if the IRS has notified you of an investigation or you believe an investigation is likely. A skilled tax lawyer could help you navigate this sensitive “eggshell” investigation in such a way that produces a positive outcome.

Defining Tax Fraud

U.S. citizens and permanent residents have a legal obligation every year to determine the tax they owe and pay it on time. When someone fails to calculate their tax accurately or pay it in a timely fashion, the IRS could pursue civil or criminal penalties for tax fraud.

Tax fraud could involve one or more tax offenses. Tax evasion, 26 United States Code § 7201, means intentionally seeking to avoid tax liability. It is also a crime under 26 United States Code § 7202 to fail to pay the taxes owed. Other crimes associated with tax fraud are failing to file a tax return and providing false information in a tax return.

How the IRS Targets Tax Fraud

Some individuals or businesses find creative ways to skip out on paying their taxes. If the IRS suspects someone of committing fraud or intentionally evading taxes, it could order a civil or criminal investigation to confirm their suspicions. If the investigation report finds an intention to defraud, they might begin the process of referring the taxpayer for criminal charges.

The IRS scrutinizes taxpayers if they encounter one or more of the common “badges of fraud,” or indications of a willful attempt to avoid paying taxes. Some actions that taxpayers often take to evade taxes include:

  • Reporting less income than the taxpayer earns
  • Claiming excess deductions
  • Keeping two sets of financial records
  • Destroying financial records
  • Failing to report assets, including foreign assets or accounts

Someone might also underpay their taxes by accident because of shoddy record-keeping, failure to understand the tax laws, or failure to file returns due to negligence or error. These underpayments can still carry penalties but would not be considered criminal.

The taxpayer’s intent is the key factor in distinguishing an attempt to defraud the government and an honest mistake that leads to an underpayment. A tax fraud attorney in Alexandria could compile evidence showing that the incorrect tax return, failure to pay the tax owed, or other violations resulted from negligence but not a willful attempt to defraud.

Defending Civil Tax Evasion Charges

If an IRS auditor or other official believes a taxpayer may have committed fraud, they could refer the matter to the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division. One clue that a criminal referral has occurred is that the auditor ceases their work without issuing an examination report and does not respond to attempts at contact. Once the auditor makes a criminal referral, an IRS Special Agent could:

  • Subpoena a taxpayer’s bank records
  • Appear at their home or office to ask questions and gather documents
  • Interview a taxpayer’s accountant or tax preparer
  • Take other intrusive actions to find evidence of wrongdoing

If the Special Agent’s investigation produces credible evidence of fraud, they could refer the matter for criminal prosecution.

Throughout this process, a lawyer in Alexandria could work with the IRS to resolve the questions about tax fraud or evasion. Criminal tax litigation is time-consuming and expensive, and in most cases the IRS agrees to accept a civil resolution. Civil resolution could require the taxpayer to repay all taxes owed, plus a penalty of 75 percent of the fraudulent underpayment. If the IRS decides to pursue criminal prosecution, the potential penalty for tax evasion is five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Get Help with an Alexandria Tax Fraud and Evasion Attorney

If you believe or know for a fact that the IRS is investigating you for tax fraud, contact an Alexandria tax fraud and evasion lawyer as quickly as possible. The Pontius Tax Law team can often identify the problematic elements of your case and present solutions that can satisfy the IRS. We can also offer advice on how to properly address your taxes in the future.

Attorney John Pontius

Pontius Tax Law, PLLC is a tax law firm that strives to resolve sensitive tax problems through trust, dedication and value. The law firm was founded by John Pontius with offices in Washington, DC,  Rockville, MD, Bethesda, MD, Fairfax, VA, and Alexandria, VA. Mr. Pontius represents individual and business clients with sensitive and serious tax matters before the Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities. His client base is local, national, and international.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Pontius has represented businesses and individuals with complex tax issues in the following areas: FBAR examinations, offshore and domestic disclosures, FATCA, FIRPTA, tax planning, unfiled tax returns, release of tax liens and levies, trust fund recovery penalty, IRS and state audit examinations, as well as appeals, penalty abatement, U.S. Tax Court litigation, along with defense of tax fraud and evasion. If you require assistance from a tax lawyer, contact Mr. Pontius to discuss your situation.

Client Reviews
John helped us with a DC tax audit and succeeded in getting us a "no change" final decision. The issues were related to two flow-through entities and the use of carry-forward operating losses -- something that the DC auditors struggled to understand and with which they did not have any...
Paul A
Mr. Pontius is extremely professional and was able to take care of my tax returns which includes international bank accounts quickly and at a very reasonable price. Would definitely recommend.
I received a fee this past November from the IRS for over $800 because of an error I made on my 2016 taxes. I called my cousin, John Pontius, and he immediately knew what steps needed to be taken. Thanks to him, the fee was cleared. A 10 minute conversation...
As an American citizen living in the Middle East my local banker informed me that I needed to file FBARs and report my worldwide income to the IRS. Through the recommendation of another attorney at an international law firm, I was introduced to John Pontius. Mr. Pontius efficiently and effectively...
Kareem S
John handled a difficult IRS lien for my client. He was excellent in getting the lien released so we could close on the property. I would highly recommend John .
Bobbie M
We were seeking tax advice with managing two properties, LLC, as well as some future financial planning. John responded to my call in a timely manner and was happy to answer our questions while referring us to specialists who can manage our accounts on a more regular basis.
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