West Palm Beach Tax Evasion Lawyer
Florida federal attorneys representing West Palm Beach
Every taxpayer wants to avoid being audited by the IRS. People who use illegal means to deliberately avoid paying owed taxes would especially like to fly under the tax agency’s radar for as long as possible. For people who evade their taxes, the risks may easily outweigh the rewards. Federal tax evasion is a crime punishable by a federal prison sentence and hefty fines.
Tax avoidance vs. tax evasion
There are some measures people can legally take to reduce their tax burden. These methods are referred to as “tax avoidance.” Some tax avoidance strategies are:
- depositing more savings in tax-exempt retirement accounts
- increasing work deductions
- paying into a college savings plan
- taking out a home equity loan
- depositing money into a health savings plan via a health savings account (HSA)
It is perfectly legal for taxpayers to use these measures to reduce the amount owed to the IRS in a single tax year. However, it is highly advisable that people who want to practice tax avoidance strategies speak to an accountant as tax avoidance requires prior planning to ensure all transactions are in compliance with IRS rules and tax laws. If a person is accused of tax evasion after operating under the believe that he or she was implementing legal tax avoidance strategies, a West Palm Beach tax evasion lawyer can provide counsel and representation to defend the accused against a federal tax charge.
Examples of tax evasion
Tax evasion takes place when a taxpayer deliberately refuses tax assessment or tax payment. Transferring funds for the purpose concealing income is a means of evading tax assessment; hiding assets after the IRS has determined that back taxes are owed is a way people sometimes attempt to evade tax payment. Examples of tax evasion include:
- falsely claiming a dependent
- under-reporting income
- refusing to file tax returns
- deliberately underpaying taxes
- hiding assets
How tax evaders are caught
The IRS employs a combination of traditional means and newer high-tech tools to help them detect and catch tax evaders. Surprisingly, the agency has historically relied on tips from whistle blowers. These informants often include former friends, angry neighbors, estranged family members, and ex-lovers who have first-hand knowledge of the accused tax evader’s spending habits. The agency primarily targets people who understate what they owe or who do not file tax returns at all. Computer analysis has long been a weapon in the government’s arsenal to combat tax evasion. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act grants authority to federal agencies to access emails that are stored on a third-party server for more than 180 days. Social media has emerged as one of the most modern methods of detecting tax evasion. If the IRS is investigating someone, agents may monitor the person’s social media accounts and gather social media posts that portray a level of wealth that does not match the amount of income and assets the person is reporting.
Defenses in a tax evasion case
There are multiple possible points of attack a Florida tax evasion defense lawyer may target in aiming to prevent his or her client from being convicted. First, the prosecution must prove intent. The U.S. tax code is very complex. A taxpayer can easily underpay as a result of simply making a mistake in determining what should be claimed on a tax return and how much he or she should pay in taxes. Most adults know they are required to file a tax return every year; therefore, proving intent may be much easier for the IRS in cases in which a person earns an average income, but argues he or she did not know that he or she was required to file a return. If the person used a tax preparer and is able to establish that the tax specialist failed to file the return, the defendant will likely have a much stronger case. In addition to arguing lack of intent, the defense lawyer may argue the IRS made a mistake. A mistake in identity, amount owed, submitted payments the IRS may have overlooked are all facts that would absolve the defendant of a federal tax evasion charge. The exact approach a West Palm Beach defense lawyer may take in defending a client against a tax evasion charge will always depend on the unique facts of the client’s case.
Call a West Palm Beach tax evasion defense lawyer
The last thing anyone who is being investigated by the IRS should do is ignore the problem and hope it will go away. With early intervention, tax issues that are the result of an honest mistake can be settled by making payment or setting up a payment plan. Even people who have deliberately concealed income or avoided paying taxes owed should contact an attorney early on. A seasoned West Palm Beach tax lawyer can be the defendant’s advocate and work to help the situation avoid unnecessary escalation. The attorney will work diligently to present the client’s case in a manner that is professional and likely to result in a more favorable outcome than if the client were to ignore the issue or forego competent, seasoned legal counsel. Making the call to a Florida tax evasion attorney is an investment in sound legal advice and peace of mind in having a knowledgeable, supportive, legally-qualified ally.