The federal government expects those who hold themselves out as professionals to act as such. When it comes to tax return professionals, this can mean that the feds will aggressively pursue allegations of poor filing practices. This can quickly escalate into allegations of fraud.
Are allegations of tax return professional fraud common?
These allegations are not uncommon. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that it conducts hundreds of these investigations every year.
What are the penalties that come with these allegations?
If the prosecution can build a successful case, the penalties are serious. In a recent example the feds have accused a tax return professional of filing false returns over a span of five years. The prosecution claims the professional provided false information that resulted in the fraudulent reduction of her client’s tax obligations. This false information included claiming fictitious businesses with significant business loss and fabricated deductions like charitable donations and employee expenses.
Upon investigation, the prosecution states that none of these deductions or claims were supported with actual documentation.
Based on this evidence, the prosecution was able to move forward with thirty-one criminal charges for assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. If the prosecution can support these claims, the accused could face over 90 years imprisonment.
What can tax return preparers learn from this case?
This case is just one of many examples of the harsh consequences that can come with a failure to file accurate tax returns. Know that the IRS will come after those it believes are attempting to thwart the system. Take the time to get documentation and keep copies as needed to defend against these types of allegations. If you are notified of an impending investigation, take action to defend yourself. The investigation can do more than just hurt your career; it can lead to imprisonment.
The attorneys at Goldburd McCone are familiar with these types of tactics and can help you to build a defense to the allegations, better ensuring a more favorable outcome — both professionally and personally.