Congressional Staffer Prosecuted for Failing to File Tax Returns

Congressional Staffer Prosecuted for Failing to File Tax Returns

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Isaac Lanier Avant of Arlington, Virginia, was recently charged with five counts of failing to file a federal tax return. Prosecutors allege that between tax years 2009 and 2013, Avant was employed but failed to file a federal income tax return. According to filings by the Department of Justice, Avant earned wages of more than $170,000 in each of the years that he failed to file a tax return.

Prosecutors say that in 2005, Avant filed paperwork with his employer stating that he was exempt from federal income tax. From that point forward, federal income taxes were not withheld from his paycheck. In 2013, the IRS had discovered Avant’s continued exempt claim and mandated that his employer begin withholding on his behalf. If Avant is convicted of failing to file a tax return, he could face up to one year in federal prison for each year that he failed to file. Finally, Avant faces steep penalties, back-taxes, and interest for the years that he didn’t file his taxes.

Taxpayers who have failed to file their taxes may feel as if they are stuck between a rock in a hard place when it comes to deciding whether to begin filing taxes regularly and fixing the mistakes of the past. On one hand, filing a federal tax return is required by law and the continued failure to file only increases the severity of the consequences. On the other hand, filing taxes for a current year or for a past year may tip off the IRS as to past noncompliance. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to tidying prior failures to file. Every taxpayer’s situation is different. An experienced tax attorney can assist in the development of a sound strategy to minimize the potential negative consequences that can come with coming into filing compliance after years of failing to do so.

Another important consideration when filing tax returns for missed years is the accuracy of the returns, themselves. Although the IRS is chiefly concerned with bringing taxpayers into compliance, taxpayers who include Large, Unusual, or Questionable items (LUQ’s) on their returns will be subject to additional scrutiny, a result that most taxpayers would like to avoid. When taking a deeper look at the books and records of taxpayers during an examination for failing to file a tax return, IRS agents typically look for evidence of significant understatements of income (e.g., a large amount of cash transactions or large and unusual business expenses). Lastly, agents will typically look for evidence that the taxpayer was aware of their obligation to file federal taxes. Evidence of such knowledge can be as little as an advanced education or being employed in a particular field that deals with taxation.

Contact an Experienced Tax Attorney Today

If you are a taxpayer that has failed to file federal taxes in the past, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced tax attorney. Although many taxpayers that have failed to file their taxes will be able to resolve their noncompliance without being criminally prosecuted, the threat is still a credible one. As Mr. Avant learned in the story above, you don’t need to be a multimillionaire who fails to file their taxes to be arrested and hauled in front of a federal judge to face criminal charges. A criminal tax defense attorney will work diligently to ensure that the appropriate strategy is developed to help keep you out of prison and your family financially secure.

The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience representing taxpayers in a myriad of tax situations. From assisting those taxpayers who have failed to file tax returns or representing those who are facing a tax examination or criminal tax investigation, our hard-working and experienced professionals are ready to zealously advocate for your best interests. Going up against the IRS can turn a situation that can be easily resolved into a full-blown criminal tax trial. Don’t lose sleep over your tax troubles. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.

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