Both federal and state taxing authorities can bring both felony and misdemeanor tax charges against a CPA’s client, the most common of which include tax evasion, failure to file a return or pay tax and filing a false return. The IRS also prosecutes taxpayers under the Federal Criminal Code on charges such as presenting false claims to the government, conspiracy, and making false statements.
In order for the federal government to prevail in a criminal prosecution, they must prove each element of an accused tax crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, the Government must bring the action within the appropriate statute of limitations for prosecution that range from three years to six years under the internal revenue code and within five years for crimes prosecuted under the Federal Criminal Code.
To complicate matters further, individuals can be convicted of committing a tax crime with regards to another person’s or entities tax liability, like for example, where a corporate officer falsifies the associated corporate returns. Corporations and other legal entities such as Estates, LLC and Partnerships may also be prosecuted. Thus, CPA’s should be aware of their own potential liability for tax crimes in preparing returns such as aiding and abetting the commission of an offense or conspiracy to commit tax evasion.