According to a Department of Justice press release, an Illinois man was arrested last week following a federal grand jury indictment. The charges relate to submitting false claims in order to obtain tax refunds, aggravated identity theft, and mail fraud. Although most taxpayers are not brazen enough to steal others’ identifiable information and claim refunds using it, the IRS is on the lookout for taxpayers who are out to cheat the system, whether that be by filing false tax returns or failing to file a tax return, altogether.
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Defendant Allegedly Stole Personal Information, Claimed False Refunds
The Department of Justice alleges that Wilmer Garcia Meza used stolen information from others, including their names, birth dates, and identifying documents to obtain their Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) from the IRS. Typically, taxpayers use their Social Security Numbers (SSN) to file taxes, but when a taxpayer does not have or is not eligible to obtain a SSN the IRS will issue an ITIN. The alleged illegal activity took place between 2013 and 2017.
The indictment indicates that Garcia allegedly used the ITINs that he illegally obtained to file multiple false tax returns claiming false refunds. As a result, the IRS issued thousands of dollars of refunds in the form of physical checks. Garcia used the stolen identification documentation from his victims to cash the checks issued by the IRS.
If Garcia is convicted of the crimes laid out in the indictment, he faces up to five years in prison for each false claim count, a mandatory sentence of two years on each aggravated identity theft count, and up to 20 years for each mail fraud count. If convicted, Garcia will also likely face a term of supervised release and monetary penalties, such as restitution.
When to Seek Help for Tax Non-Compliance
As we indicated above, this story involves much more than filing false tax returns. Nonetheless, it highlights the seriousness surrounding filing tax returns that generate refunds when the support for such a claim is weak, or worse, nonexistent. Come tax time, many taxpayers may under-report income or over-inflate expenses and justify their actions by thinking that “the IRS won’t catch me” or “there are much bigger fish out there than me”. Although that notion may be true sometimes, there are plenty of taxpayers that find themselves in hot water because they have blatantly taken positions on their tax returns that they know are not supportable.
For those taxpayers who can relate to the sentiment above and have been less than truthful on their tax returns or have failed to file tax returns in prior years, there is good news. There are several strategies to help you come into compliance with tax laws that can minimize the exposure you will face if the IRS detects your activity (or inactivity) before you act.
An experienced tax defense attorney will serve as a valuable resource to you or your business. They will determine the facts and circumstances regarding your situation and present you with options in an effort to mitigate any civil or criminal penalties that you may be otherwise facing relating to your tax non-compliance.
Note: As long as a taxpayer that has willfully committed tax crimes self-reports the tax fraud (including a pattern of non-filed returns) through a domestic or offshore voluntary disclosure before the IRS has started an audit or criminal tax prosecution, the taxpayer can be successfully brought back into tax compliance and receive a nearly guaranteed pass on criminal tax prosecution and simultaneously receive a break on the civil penalties that would otherwise apply. It is imperative that you hire an experienced and reputable tax defense attorney to take you through the voluntary disclosure process. As uniquely qualified and extensively experienced Criminal Tax Defense Tax Attorneys, Kovel CPAs and EAs, our firm provides a one stop shop to efficiently achieve the optimal and predictable results. See our Testimonials to see what our clients have to say about us!
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Contact an Experienced Tax Attorney Today
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience representing a diverse group of taxpayers. From individuals to middle market businesses and beyond, our team of zealous advocates will assist in the development of a strategy to help you reach your specific goals and objectives. Whether you are under a tax examination or are in need of tax planning advice, contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today, online or by phone at (800) 681-1295, for a reduced-rate consultation.
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