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What happens when a CPA is charged with tax fraud?

It is a felony to present to the government a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim, which most commonly arises where a taxpayer submits a false claim for refund of taxes prepared by a CPA. Notwithstanding, this statute has also been applied to situations where a defendant who filed an income tax return falsely claimed a refund based on backdated documents, a defendant who filed duplicate returns, one in his name and one in a fictitious name, and a defendant who filed returns claiming refunds in the names of other persons but using his own address. This crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

For the government to secure a conviction for the presentation of a false claim, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant made or presented a claim for money or property to a department or agency of the United States Government;
  • The claim was false, fictitious, or fraudulent, and
  • The defendant knew that the claim was false, fictitious, or fraudulent at the time presented.

A return may be false or fictitious under the statute if the facts and figures used on the return are fictitious, even though the taxpayer might be entitled to a refund if a true return were filed. Although, the statute does not specifically require that a claim be false as to a material matter in those jurisdictions that regard materiality as an element the question is often given to the jury to decide. The statute of limitations for prosecution for making a false claim to the government is five years.