New York officials recently released information on the arrest of eight individuals charged with tax crimes. The charges include filing fraudulent tax returns and failing to pay personal income taxes. The accused face financial penalties as well as potential prison time ranging from a sentence of one to 15 years.
Why the large range? The biggest reason often depends on intent.
Charges explained: Tax crime definitions in New York
The severity of the penalties will often depend on whether the prosecution can establish if the crimes were willful. In New York, as is true in most states as well as at the federal level, a willful or intentional attempt to defraud the government comes with an increase in penalties.
For example, those who make an honest mistake while reporting income to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance can face a 5% penalty as well as a 50% penalty on interest due. However, courts could charge a penalty of up to two times the amount of the difference between the correct and reported tax if the government can establish the error was intentional or fraudulent.
Take home lesson: These charges may just be the beginning
New York residents should take note: the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance stated the arrests were one result of increased efforts during tax season to crackdown on tax crimes. It is likely additional charges resulting from this effort will emerge in the future.
Those who face similar accusations are wise to act to protect their interests. The attorneys at Goldburd McCone are experienced with tax charges and can provide legal representations throughout the process.