If polled, many Americans may opine that federal taxes are too high. A smaller amount may go as far as to say that federal taxes should be abolished, as a whole. And then there are a very small group of U.S. residents who believe that there is a legal argument to be made that would abrogate their duty to pay income tax. Typically, proponents of such views claim that federal income taxes are unconstitutional or that the jurisdictional arm of the U.S. tax system does not reach them. These arguments are almost always losing ones. Such was the case in Maine last week, where a businessman was sentenced to serve a year and a day in federal prison for committing various tax crimes.
According to a Department of Justice press release, F. William Messier, 71, and David E. Robinson, 78 of Brunswick, Maine, were found guilty back in April after a week-long federal jury trial. The duo was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and corruptly endeavoring to impede the lawful administration of the Internal Revenue Code. Messier was sentenced to spend a year and a day in a federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Furthermore, he was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and file and pay back taxes from 2005 to the present. Robinson will be sentenced in early October.
According to court documents, Messier received rental income stemming from leases for space on his property that was being used for cell phone communication towers. Doing business as Oak Hill Communications, Messier did not pay taxes on his income for tax years 2000-2004. When the IRS made an assessment for the taxes owed during those years, Robinson asserted that he was the “Interim Attorney General” of the “Maine Republic Free State” and could not be forced to pay taxes. While conducting their business, the IRS alleged that the two taxpayers performed several acts that were meant to impede the administration of Internal Revenue laws by engaging in the excessive use of cash and providing clients with false tax documents.
The Department of Justice states that evidence presented at trial shows that when the IRS sent notices to Oak Hill Communication’s customers instructing them to make payments directly to the IRS, Messier sent his own correspondence that threatened legal action if the customers complied with the garnishment. In fact, evidence that the government at trial showed that at least filed one frivolous lawsuit against a customer for complying with the request by the IRS.
Although some of the defenses that were proffered by the defendants seem laughable, being investigated for, and accused of tax evasion or conspiracy to defraud the government is no joke. Although one of the defendants in the case at hand was only sentenced to a year in prison, the potential repercussions are much greater. When a taxpayer attempts to defraud the government, he or she can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to pay up to $250,000 per count and typically, those investigated for tax fraud or other tax crimes are alleged to have engaged in continuous fraudulent activity.
When taxpayers first receive word that the IRS is questioning the validity of their tax affairs, it is in their best interest to contact an experienced tax attorney as soon as possible. Many taxpayers attempt to figure a way out of tax troubles on their own, but can inadvertently make matters much worse. An experienced tax attorney has the ability to assess a situation and determine the right course of action to take in order to minimize or completely avoid criminal or civil repercussions.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience representing taxpayers in tax matters ranging from examinations, investigations, and litigation. Your personal and financial freedom is our top priority. When the IRS comes knocking, ensure that you have an experienced and zealous advocate to go to battle for you. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.