As we enter the final months of 2015, we are just around the corner from 2015 tax season that will see millions of Americans file tax returns with the IRS. Although most taxpayers diligently file their taxes, there are some that either negligently prepare their taxes incorrectly or some that choose not to file at all. Several decades ago, it was easier for taxpayers to get away with accuracy errors and non-filing, but those days are gone due primarily to the proliferation of computer systems used by the IRS to automatically check for inaccuracies and non-compliance. Every American is at risk of having their affairs scrutinized by the IRS, including those who we entrust to protect and serve our communities: our nation’s police officers.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Ishmeal Heru-Bey, formerly known as Jamal Adams, of Glenarden, Maryland was convicted by a federal jury of charges stemming from Heru-Bey’s failing to file a tax return, filing false tax returns, and tax evasion. At trial, prosecutors offered evidence to show that Heru-Bey fraudulently prevented the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. from withholding employment taxes by submitting false W-4 forms that proclaimed that he was exempt from federal income taxes. Additional evidence was introduced that showed that Heru-Bey failed to file timely tax returns for tax years 2005-2012. Lastly, he is accused of filing tax returns that claimed that he was entitled to deductions based on employment-related expenses such as meals, dry-cleaning, and travel expenses. Prosecutors stated that although the deductions that Heru-Bey claimed may be valid in some instances, Heru-Bey was suspended during the years that he claimed the deductions, and thus, the deductions were not valid.
Heru-Bey’s trial lasted five days and he will be sentenced on January 7th, 2016. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. As with all other cases involving tax crimes, Heru-Bey will likely also be ordered to pay back taxes and interest in addition to his statutory fine along with the cost of prosecution.
The prosecution of Heru-Bey goes to show that no one is immune from investigation and prosecution by the IRS or the Department of Justice. Police officers are looked upon as members of our society who are honest, but as demonstrated, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division has no qualms with investigating anyone who they believe has violated tax law. One of the dangerous realities of tax evasion prosecutions is that the situation can escalate very quickly. One moment a taxpayer may be involved in a simple tax examination and the next, he or she may be sitting across the table from investigators from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division or prosecutors from the Department of Justice.
Far too many taxpayers who receive notice of an examination believe that they will be able to talk their way out of the situation by explaining away any discrepancies that arise during the course of the examination. The harsh truth is that IRS agents that conduct audits are trained to solicit responses to questions that could be incriminating and can subsequently be used against taxpayers in a criminal trial. Having an experienced tax controversy attorney present at all interactions with the IRS doesn’t show that you are guilty, but rather sends a message to the IRS that you won’t be pressured into making statements that could be used later to throw you in federal prison.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience representing taxpayers in a myriad of tax disputes with the IRS. Whether it be an examination, an investigation, or criminal or civil litigation, we will zealously advocate for your physical freedom and your financial well-being. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.