Given the complexities of state and federal tax law, even simple mistakes can lead to penalties. Tax fraud is a far more serious matter, however, since it involves intentionally underpaying taxes in violation of applicable tax laws. Because both civil and criminal penalties apply to tax crimes, anyone facing tax fraud charges should consult an experienced white collar crimes attorney.
Benjamin Law Firm, located in El Paso, he has tried tax fraud cases in Texas. If you are facing state or federal tax fraud charges, we will provide you with powerful representation and mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. Founding attorney Brock Benjamin is a former prosecutor and Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which makes him well-equipped to defend your tax fraud charges.
Because tax fraud cases often begin with an anonymous tip to the Internal Revenue Service or state authorities, the prosecution may have had a head start building its case against you. For this reason, it is critically important to contact our aggressive tax fraud defense attorneys as soon as you can. Working with our accomplished legal team can mean the difference between freedom and serving a lengthy prison sentence.
When you consult Benjamin Law Firm, we will explain all your rights, carefully evaluate the evidence against you, and consider all your options. We understand the nuances of tax law and will work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Above all, we will always put your best interests first and fight to protect your freedom and your future.
What is Tax Fraud?
It is important to distinguish tax fraud from tax avoidance, which involves using legitimate means to mitigate tax liabilities, such as tax deductions and tax credits. By contrast, tax fraud occurs when an individual or business deliberately misstates income or assets to avoid paying taxes.
Tax fraud is classified as a white-collar crime, a nonviolent, financially motivated offense that combines elements of deceit, concealment, and a violation of trust. In particular, tax fraud involves a wide range of illegal activities, including:
- Failing to file tax returns
- Falsifying books and records
- Underreporting income and assets
- Overstating tax deductions
- Claiming false exemptions
- Submitting false or altered documents (W-2s, 1099s)
- Filing multiple filings (to receive fraudulent refunds)
- Sales tax fraud
- Failing to pay employment withholding taxes
- Using illegal offshore tax shelters
In addition, tax fraud often involves other white collar crimes, such as wire fraud, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, as well as drug crimes, which means that multiple charges may be filed against tax fraud defendants.
Given the government’s unlimited financial resources, aggressive investigative techniques, and broad surveillance powers, it takes a skilled white collar crimes attorney like Brock Benjamin to fight back and protect you against tax fraud charges. These cases can also trigger serious sentence recommendations under the United Sentencing Guidelines. Those guidelines are based on different bases of loss and can include hypothetical losses.
Tax fraud cases at the state level are typically investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Comptroller’s office, often in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the federal level, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI collaborate on tax fraud investigations.
While the state may pursue civil or criminal charges, federal prosecutors typically bring criminal charges in tax fraud cases. Depending on the circumstances, a defendant may be charged criminally while his or her business is also charged civilly for the same offense.
If you are being investigated for tax fraud, don’t go up against the government alone. Contact Benjamin Law Firm instead and first. Never waive your rights and attempt to explain to investigators what you may believe happened. We have the experience to protect you against tax fraud in state and federal court. Our trial lawyers have a well-earned reputation for making convincing arguments before juries, though we are also prepared to enter into plea negotiations with prosecutors when necessary. Regardless of the approach we take, you can trust us to protect your rights and preserve your freedom.
Tax Fraud in Texas
Because Texas does not impose a personal income tax, the state’s primary source of revenue is the sales tax. Therefore, tax evasion cases typically involve businesses engaging in sales tax fraud, which occurs when a business intentionally and knowingly:
- Fails to file or pay taxes
- Submits false tax records
- Fails to report accurate gross sales
- Fails to produce records for inspection
Sales tax fraud may also involve the use of automated sales suppression devices or software to alter electronic records (e.g transaction reports). If your business is facing sales tax fraud charges, you should know that both your business and your personal assets may be in jeopardy, depending on how the entity is structured. When your life’s work is at stake, you need the powerful representation Benjamin Law Firm provides.
Penalties in Texas
The penalties for tax fraud in Texas depend on the amount of the unpaid taxes. In addition to paying any taxes owed, the charges and penalties include:
- First-Degree Felony — Amount greater than $200,000, punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second Degree Felony — Amount greater than $100,000, but less than $200,000, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Third Degree Felony — Amount greater than $20,000, but less than $100,000, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- State Jail Felony — Amount greater than $1,500, but less than 20,000, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- Class A Misdemeanor — Amount greater than $500, but less than $1,500, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $4,000
- Class B Misdemeanor — Amount greater than $50, but less than $500, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000
- Class C Misdemeanor — Amount less than $50, punishable by a fine up to $50 (no jail time applies to Class C Misdemeanors in Texas)
In addition, the state comptroller has the power to revoke or suspend business sales tax permits as well as to deny future permits. Because the penalties for tax fraud in Texas are severe, it is crucial to have an aggressive tax fraud attorney handle your case. With Benjamin Law Firm in your corner, you increase the likelihood of avoiding or mitigating tax fraud penalties.
How Benjamin Law Firm Handles Texas Tax Fraud Charges
Given that many businesses rely on third-party providers to manage their taxes, there are a number of viable defenses our legal team can raise against sales tax fraud charges. In a sales tax fraud case, the state will gather evidence that includes sales receipts, books and ledgers, bank records, transaction reports and other data to support its allegations.
Our tax fraud attorneys have the skills and resources, such as ediscovery, to challenge the validity of the state’s evidence. We will also determine whether law enforcement or investigators conducted unlawful surveillance and move to have any such evidence suppressed.
Remember, as your criminal defense attorneys, our job is not to prove your innocence. Instead, the state must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to commit sales tax fraud, which is a high burden of proof. Rest assured that our dependable legal team is here to protect your rights, your business, and your future.
An Overview of Federal Tax Fraud
The IRS, an agency under the Department of Treasury, is responsible for processing tax returns as well as enforcing U.S. tax laws. The IRS employs thousands of special agents who conduct investigations of a wide range of tax crimes, including:
- Tax Evasion involves knowingly and willfully underreporting income on a tax return with the intent of evading payment of taxes. To act willfully means that the defendant intentionally and voluntarily violated a legal duty to pay income taxes. On the other hand, a person who does not file a tax return because he or she reasonably believed that no taxes were owed to the government may not be convicted for tax evasion, even if the failure to file was willful.
- False Statements on Income Tax Returns occurs when an individual knowingly and willfully submits a tax return with material false statements. A false statement is considered “material” if it influences an IRS audit, investigation, or verification of income. In addition, material omissions from an income tax return are also considered false statements. A defendant may not be liable for false statements resulting from his/her misunderstandings or reliance on a tax preparer, however.
- Aiding or Assisting in Preparation of False Documents Under Internal Revenue Laws applies to anyone who knowingly and willfully assists in the preparation of a tax return containing material false statements, with or without the knowledge or consent of the person whose taxes were prepared. An individual who acts on a mistaken belief or misinformation may not be held liable for this offense, however.
- Conspiracy charges may also apply in fraud cases in which a defendant is alleged to have agreed with one or more individuals to commit fraud and at least one overt act is taken to advance the conspiracy. In the context of tax fraud, this may involve business partners collaborating to evade income taxes by submitting false statements. To gain a conviction, prosecutors must be able to show that the defendant was aware of the unlawful nature of the scheme and was not acting in a way that incidentally advanced the conspiracy.
Although federal prosecutors have an unfair advantage over tax fraud defendants, the legal team at Benjamin Law Firm knows how to fight back. We have extensive experience defending tax fraud cases in federal court, where the rules of procedure differ from state court. By exploiting weaknesses in the government’s case and challenging any and all evidence, we will work to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Both criminal and civil penalties apply to federal tax fraud cases, including incarceration in federal prison, repayment of the government’s legal costs, monetary penalties and fines. The penalties for tax fraud are as follows:
- Tax Evasion is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and fines (up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations).
- False Statements on Income Tax Returns are punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 years and fines.
- Aiding or Assisting in Preparation of False Documents Under Internal Revenue Laws is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and fines.
- Conspiracy is punishable by up to 5 years in prison; additional penalties for the underlying tax crimes also apply.
Defenses Against Federal Tax Fraud Charges
At Benjamin Law Firm, we have the knowledge and skills to assert any and all defenses against tax fraud, including affirmative defenses. Put simply, an affirmative defense establishes a different set of facts than those alleged by the prosecutor that may eliminate the defendant’s liability. As an example, a defendant’s reliance on a qualified tax preparer may be an affirmative defense against tax evasion charges.
Other potential defenses against tax fraud include:
- Lack of Intent — To gain a conviction for tax fraud, the government must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to defraud the government. Therefore a mistake in a tax return, such as a miscalculation, may not be considered tax fraud, even if the mistake results in an underpayment. Brock Benjamin has the knowledge and skills to demonstrate that you did not intend to commit tax fraud.
- Lack of Evidence — Given that tax fraud cases typically involve a vast amount of financial data, we will work to expose weaknesses and flaws in the evidence against you. In addition, if we determine that the government abused its surveillance powers or violated your rights, we will move to have any evidence suppressed and have the case dismissed.
Depending on the circumstances, we may also be able to prove that you lacked sufficient knowledge of tax law to commit fraud or point to your good history of filing tax returns as a defense. Ultimately, mounting a successful defense against federal tax fraud charges requires extensive preparation and exceptional courtroom skills — hallmarks of Brock Benjamin’s practice.
In a tax fraud case, federal authorities will leverage their vast financial resources and broad surveillance powers to build their case against you. At the same time, overzealous prosecutors may employ tactics that violate your civil rights. You can trust our savvy tax fraud defense attorneys to move swiftly to suppress any evidence that was unlawfully obtained. In this way, we will fight to protect your rights and stand by you every step of the way, offering you encouragement and objective insights as your case proceeds.
The Benjamin Law Firm Difference
While many attorneys are comfortable handling criminal cases in the state courts, successfully defending your charges is best left to a lawyer who knows his way around the federal court system. Brock Benjamin is steeped in the federal rules of criminal procedure and his background as a prosecutor makes him well-acquainted with the government’s tactics in federal investigations.
Our legal team has frequently gone up against attorneys from the Department of Justice as well as federal prosecutors in the many U.S. Attorneys Offices. We will challenge the prosecution’s evidence, work to expose weaknesses and errors in their case, cross-examine government witnesses, and seek out evidence of your innocence. While we know how to successfully try tax fraud cases, we may recommend negotiating a plea deal if doing so is in your best interests.
Benjamin Law Firm has a well-earned reputation for being trusted legal advisors dedicated to protecting individuals, business and professional licenses against federal tax investigations.
When you become our client, we will explain your rights and help you navigate the legal system. Ultimately, having our legal team on your side can mean the difference between securing your freedom and serving a lengthy prison sentence.
Results That Matter
At Benjamin Law Firm, we have a proven history of helping our clients avoid civil and criminal liability in tax fraud cases. We represent clients during audits and work strategically to prevent asset seizures and preserve professional licenses. Depending on the circumstances, we look to resolve criminal investigations civilly so that our clients avoid prison sentences.
Although the penalties for tax fraud are severe, we may be able to negotiate a tax resolution with the Texas Comptroller’s office or the IRS. Above all, we are committed to protecting your rights, your freedom and your future. When you partner with us, we will encourage your participation in your defense.
Our attorneys will always be upfront with you about your prospects at trial and keep you fully informed about any and all developments in your case. Our trustworthy advice and objective insights will put you in the driver’s seat, where you can make the best decisions about your future.
Contact Our Experienced Texas Tax Fraud Attorneys
Being convicted of tax fraud can have lasting repercussions for your future, and the resulting fines and penalties can place you in financial jeopardy. With so much at stake, it is crucial to work with a criminal defense attorney who knows how to fight tax fraud charges.
Brock Benjamin is a premier white-collar crimes defense attorney serving clients in the state of Texas. Over his many years of practice, attorney Benjamin has established relationships with federal prosecutors, IRS agents, and government officials who view him as a dedicated advocate and an honest broker.
Unlike other criminal cases, tax fraud cases require a high degree of legal and financial sophistication. Our attorneys are familiar with applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, the Texas Criminal Code and other relevant statutes. In addition, we routinely collaborate with a network of respected CPAs and financial experts on tax fraud cases who can provide compelling information and testimony. Together, we will work tirelessly to protect your business and personal assets, as well as your reputation.
At Benjamin Law Firm, we are committed to providing you with the finest legal representation and achieving the best possible outcome for you. When you work with our winning legal team, we will never judge you and always presume your innocence. Although our objective is to achieve, no criminal or civil liability outcomes in tax fraud cases, we will carefully weigh the strength of the evidence against you and consider all your options.
A tax fraud charge is a serious matter that demands a vigorous defense. The sooner you call Benjamin Law Firm, the sooner we can start protecting your freedom. Contact our office today to set up a free evaluation of your case.