Unless you have been living under a rock, you are likely aware of the television program entitled “Jersey Shore” that was produced by and aired on the MTV network. The documentary-style comedic drama followed several residents of New Jersey while they cohabited in a large home that was provided by the network. One of the characters, Michael Sorrentino (nicknamed “The Situation”) was one of the show’s most popular characters. Although Jersey Shore aired for the last time at the end of 2012, Sorrentino, his brother, and his accountant, have found themselves in a dramatic tax “situation”.
According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Michael Sorrentino’s accountant pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in a federal court, last week. Gregg Mark, 51, of Spotswood, New Jersey, was alleged to have filed tax returns on behalf of Michael Sorrentino and his brother Marc. The tax returns, which court documents indicate were filed between 2010 and 2011, were for the Sorrentino’s as individuals, and for their businesses – MPS Enterprises LLC and Situation Nation Inc. Mark admitted that he conspired with the brothers in an attempt to reduce the taxes that were owed to the United States stemming from the income that Michael Sorrentino made from MTV while being chronicled on Jersey Shore, as well as income from sponsorships and appearances during and after the show’s production.
The Department of Justice estimated that the trio defrauded the IRS of nearly $1.5 million. Michael and Marc Sorrentino were indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey on September 24th. The brothers were also charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing false tax returns. Michael was also charged with one count of failing to file a tax return. Finally, both of the brothers were charged with claiming personal expenses (of often high-end items such as clothing and vehicles) as business expenses. Both Michael and Marc have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and a trial date has not yet been set. The conspiracy charge alone carries a potential five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.
This story goes to show that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you have violated tax laws by evading or fraudulently preparing your taxes, the IRS will eventually discover the illegal activity and come after you and those whom you are associated with. Ultimately, there are two actions that taxpayers can take in order to avoid the harsh consequences of a criminal tax prosecution. First, finding a trustworthy and competent professional to handle your tax affairs is an extremely good investment. Although anyone can prepare your taxes, an experienced tax attorney with a practice full of highly-experienced tax professionals is a great please to go to ensure that you are compliant with the law while ensuring that you are paying the last amount of tax that is required. Second and most importantly, if you are being investigated for committing a tax crime, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal tax defense attorney immediately. Many taxpayers believe that the IRS is full of empty threats and that they are able to talk their way out of an investigation or examination. In reality, many taxpayers incriminate themselves with the statements that they make during an encounter with the IRS. An experienced tax attorney will ensure that those types of mistakes are not made.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience assisting taxpayers with tax compliance, as well as assisting those who have found themselves in tax trouble. Although many taxpayers think that the best strategy is to push the problem off, the taxpayers who are typically the most successful when it comes to tax problems are those who come forward, discuss their issues with a tax attorney, and decide upon a plan of action. Not only will it help you sleep at night, but it will likely also mitigate or eliminate any harsh consequences of being caught and prosecuted for a tax crime in the future. Don’t go up against the IRS or Department of Justice alone. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.