Defense Attorney for Income Tax Crimes
Utilizing any available deductions or legitimate tax shelters is perfectly legal. But if you deliberately fail to report income or pay what you truly owe, you will need a criminal defense attorney to protect you from the consequences.
Tax Evasion v. Tax Avoidance: Night v. Day
No one believes there is anything wrong with paying as little in taxes as possible. It’s almost like another American sport. The federal and state tax codes are highly complex, and people frequently make honest mistakes. The government knows this and, in most cases, will let you have a chance to fix or explain it unless it is obvious you deliberately tried to cheat the government. Your best hope to avoid prosecution is the early intervention of a qualified, experienced, and zealous attorney for income tax crimes.
Tax avoidance is paying as little as possible while legitimately staying within the tax code rules. How much a person pays depends on many factors, and it is appropriate to ensure you get all the breaks, shelters, and deductions legally possible. People sometimes get in hot water by being too creative in claiming deductions or defining business expenses. Still, the penalty for honest mistakes is usually a monetary penalty or a warning, not a criminal charge.
Tax evasion is quite another thing and will result in criminal charges. Tax evasion is when a person intentionally fails to pay lawfully due taxes on taxable income. Proof of tax evasion usually involves a paper trail or a lack of one where one should exist. Michigan tax agents/investigators are accountants and do only tax code work. They are specialized experts, and if you are charged or investigated, you would be well-advised to have an experienced attorney talk for you.
Tax authorities have enormous power over citizens, such as seizing property and freezing bank accounts. They can freeze your life in place until they resolve the issue with you or charge you with a crime. Therefore, it is critical to retain the best criminal defense attorney you can at the earliest time. A savvy and experienced attorney can free up assets while the investigation or case proceeds and negotiate a resolution for you. Of course, if you are innocent, your attorney must have the know-how and courage to fend off the government and fight to have the charges dismissed and thrown out of court or have the investigation closed.
Prohibited Acts Under Michigan Law
Michigan’s tax evasion statute endows county prosecutors and the Michigan Attorney General with the authority to prosecute tax evasion cases. A person will almost certainly be charged with a crime if there is evidence that they did any of the following things with the intent to defraud the government to evade paying taxes:
- Fail to file a timely return;
- File a false or fraudulent return;
- Make a false statement in a tax return or payment;
- Aid or abet another person in an attempt to evade taxes;
- Make a false claim for credit against taxes;
- Commit perjury by swearing to or verifying a false or fraudulent statement in a return or payment;
- Lie to a Michigan tax agent during an audit;
- Claim false or fabricated deductions and expenses; and
- Claim personal expenses as business expenses.
Criminal Penalties for Michigan Tax Evasion
For the actions above, the penalty under Michigan law is a potential five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of court-supervised probation, and a $5,000.00 fine. However, concerning the offense of committing perjury by falsely swearing to or verifying a return or statement therein, the statute makes the penalty the same as for any perjury conviction (lying under oath), which is up to 15 years in prison. This charge would be in addition to any tax evasion charges.
Defenses to Tax Crime Charges
First, let’s dispel a common but wholly erroneous and dangerous misconception: Some people believe that if an accountant or tax preparation company prepares their returns, they need not worry about mistakes in their tax returns. People in this situation might think they can say they didn’t read the return thoroughly enough or missed something. Since someone didn’t prepare their tax return, they might believe they are not at fault. Unfortunately, such a person might be criminally liable. Willful ignorance is not a defense. Anything submitted under your name and signed by you is your verification that you read it and confirmed its accuracy.
Tax codes are very complicated, and many of the provisions and formulas in the tax code could be open to various interpretations. Therefore, an astute and experienced defense attorney has room for argument regarding specific claims, deductions, and how amounts owed were calculated.
Furthermore, the tax laws require that the government prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you deliberately intended to defraud the government. Proving this can be challenging and may depend on business volumes or personal financial records. These cases make a juror’s eyes glaze over, and the government knows this. The government also knows how most people, including jurors, feel about governmental tax agents due to decades of documented horror stories of abuse of power. Suppose a case is close, and there is no overwhelming evidence of guilt or a confession. In that case, a top-rated, reputable defense attorney can usually leverage these factors and arrange a resolution to the satisfaction and relief of the client.
Plea Bargains and Reduced Penalties
If the evidence of guilt is overwhelming, a zealous, skilled, and passionate defense attorney can still help, even with a complete confession. An attorney experienced in dealing with prosecutors will know how to negotiate a deal and be your best hope to avoid jail time. After all, unless a defendant is brazen and remorseless, the government usually wants the money owed at the end of the day and might not be overly focused on punishment. Prosecutors typically like to avoid a trial if they can get a satisfactory resolution without one. It is a give-and-take process an experienced attorney will be familiar with and one you should never attempt on your own.
Income Tax Crimes Defense Attorneys
The defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience dealing with aggressive prosecutors and investigators. We know how to protect you and zealously advocate for the best resolution possible to any case or investigation. We have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges throughout Michigan. We have a well-deserved reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and personalized care for each client. Call us for a free consultation, and we will take the time to speak with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. We are not afraid to win!
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.