Do You Have Tax Problems? Federal Tax Fraud Defense Lawyers are Dedicated to helping with Tax Problems
Do you have problems with your tax reporting? Did you find out that you are under investigation? Did IRS agents come to your house or place of business? Did you receive a Grand Jury subpoena? Are friends, family members or people that you care about accused of a federal theft offense? Is it time to get a lawyer? If so, this is what you need to know.
The federal government has significantly increased the number of federal white-collar investigations, including tax offense prosecutions. Almost no day passes without new arrests and new accusations. With penalties ranging from criminal fines to years in prison, it is essential to obtain reliable legal advice fast— to avoid worst-case scenarios.
Oberheiden & McMurrey is a group of former U.S. prosecutors and experienced federal defense counsel. We can help you with your tax problems. Many of our attorneys are former Department of Justice prosecutors that have worked closely with federal law enforcement agencies like the IRS. Our experience from the Department of Justice can make a decisive difference when choosing the right strategy to keep you out of trouble. Our attorneys have successfully resolved a great number of federal investigations with no criminal charges for our clients and we would be delighted to do the same for you. Contact us today for a free and 100% confidential consultation.
An Overview of Tax Fraud
Tax fraud occurs when individuals or businesses intentionally and unlawfully underpay or fail to pay their tax obligations. While the government may pursue tax fraud either civilly or criminally, federal prosecutors are increasingly pursuing criminal charges against individuals suspected of tax fraud. In some cases, the government will charge an individual criminally and the individual’s business civilly for the same underlying conduct.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the executive agency housed within the Department of the Treasury that is responsible not only for collecting and processing tax returns, but for investigating suspected federal tax crimes. The IRS employs thousands of special agents who are tasked with preventing, detecting and investigating tax fraud and other tax crimes, including identity theft related to tax documents.
Federal prosecutors often include conspiracy charges with charges of tax crimes. Under a charge of conspiracy, the government argues that the defendant agreed with one or more other individuals to commit a tax crime and at least one person involved in the conspiracy engaged in one or more overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy.
The former federal prosecutors and attorneys of Oberheiden & McMurrey are available to discuss your case. Don’t let the situation get out of control and don’t let the government build a criminal case against you. Call us today and let us identify your options.
Federal Tax Crimes Defined
Tax Evasion [26 U.S.C. § 7201]: A person commits “tax evasion” by knowingly and willfully underreporting his income on his tax return with the intent of evading payment of taxes to the government. Tax evasion requires an affirmative act; merely failing to file a tax return does not amount to tax evasion, even if the failure to file was willful. In the context of tax crimes, a person acts “willfully” where he voluntarily and intentionally violates a known legal duty. Thus, in the context of tax evasion, a person who does not fulfill his tax obligations because he believed he did not owe any money to the government would not be committing tax evasion, regardless of whether such belief is reasonable.
False Statements on Income Tax Returns [26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)]: A person may be guilty of making “false statements on income tax returns” if that person knowingly and willfully signs and submits a tax return that contains material false statements with the intent to violate a known legal duty. A false statement is considered “material” if it is capable of influencing an Internal Revenue Service audit, investigation, or verification of income. The term “false statement” includes material omissions from an income tax return. In the context of tax crimes, person acts “willfully” where he voluntarily and intentionally violates a known legal duty. Thus, if a person includes false statements or omissions on a tax return as a result of that person’s mistaken beliefs or misunderstandings, that person would not be criminally liable for making false statements on an income tax return. Similarly, if the false statements are the result of the person’s reliance on a tax preparer, that person may have a defense to the crime of making false statements on a tax return.
Aiding or Assisting in Preparation of False Documents Under Internal Revenue Laws [26 U.S.C. § 7206(2)]: A person may be guilty of “aiding or assisting in preparation of false documents under the Internal Revenue Laws” if that person knowingly and willfully assisted in the preparation of a tax return that contained material false statements with the intent to violate a known legal duty. A false statement is considered “material” if it is capable of influencing an Internal Revenue Service audit, investigation, or verification of income. The term “false statement” includes material omissions from tax documents. In the context of tax crimes, person acts “willfully” where he voluntarily and intentionally violates a known legal duty. Thus, a person who acts on a mistaken belief or misinformation will not have violated the law. Importantly, the knowledge or consent of the person whose taxes are prepared is irrelevant to commission of this crime.
Conspiracy [18 U.S.C. § 371]: A person may be guilty of conspiracy if he willfully agrees with at least one other person to commit a crime and at least one overt act is taken in furtherance of the conspiracy by that person or one of that person’s co-conspirators. A “conspiracy” is created when two or more individuals agree to work together to in pursuit of an unlawful goal. To be involved in a conspiracy, a person must be aware of the unlawful nature of the scheme; merely acting in a way that incidentally advances some element of the conspiracy does not render someone a conspirator. Nonetheless, the person need not be aware of all of the details of the scheme, of the identities of all other co-conspirators, or of all of the plans or actions of the co-conspirators to join the conspiracy. No formal agreement need exist or be acknowledged by the co-conspirators.
Tax Fraud Penalties
Both individuals and corporate entities may be penalized for tax fraud. Criminal penalties for tax fraud generally involve large fines, prison terms in federal penitentiaries, and repayment of the government’s costs of prosecution. Civil penalties for tax fraud include monetary penalties or fines and repayment of the government’s prosecutorial expenses.
- Tax Evasion: Punishment for tax evasion includes a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations, and repayment of the costs of prosecution.
- False Statements on Income Tax Returns: Punishment for making false statements on income tax returns includes a prison sentence of up to three years, a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations, and repayment of the costs of prosecution.
- Aiding or Assisting in Preparation of False Documents Under Internal Revenue Laws: Punishment for assisting in preparation of false tax documents includes a prison sentence of up to three years, a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations, and repayment of the costs of prosecution.
- Conspiracy: Where the object of a conspiracy is a felony, as is the case for federal tax crimes, the punishment is up to five years in prison and/or criminal fines. A person found guilty of conspiracy to commit a tax crime may face additional penalties for the underlying tax crimes that were the object of the conspiracy.
Choosing the Right Defense Lawyer
Experience. Hiring the right attorney to get you out of a federal investigation can literally become an investment into your future and your freedom. If you are fighting the IRS, you should be smart and rely on lawyers that previously supervised and directed IRS investigations and therefore know the process and what to do against it. Several attorneys of Oberheiden & McMurrey have previously held senior positions within the Department of Justice and served as federal prosecutors at various U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
Federal Criminal Lawyers. Tax crimes are generally prosecuted through the federal court system by Assistant United States Attorneys. Therefore, the right lawyer to defend against tax crimes will be well-versed in federal criminal laws and procedures. Most criminal defense attorneys who defend charges of robbery, DWI, or rape practice primarily in state court and may therefore be unfamiliar with the federal court system. While such state court defense attorneys may be very competent, they may not be the right attorneys to defend against allegations of federal tax crimes. One of the great advantages of Oberheiden & McMurrey is that many of our attorneys previously served as Assistant United States Attorneys themselves and therefore understand how current prosecutors approach a case and what to do against such a government investigation.
Lack of Intent. A conviction for tax fraud requires the government to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – that an individual intended to defraud the federal government. Making a mistake in a tax document, such as a clerical error or a miscalculation, does not constitute tax fraud, even if the mistake results in an underpayment. Throughout a tax fraud investigation, we rigorously demonstrate to federal investigators that our clients did not intend to defraud the government. At trial, we hold federal prosecutors accountable to meeting their full constitutional burden of proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lack of Evidence. In a white-collar criminal case, the federal government holds the burden of proving every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that if a federal prosecutor fails to support any single element of a crime, the entire charge fails. At Oberheiden & McMurrey, we hold federal prosecutors strictly to this standard, and we have a track record of successfully undermining the government’s case by demonstrating the flaws and failures of the evidence against our clients. Representative outcomes of the white-collar criminal cases that our attorneys handled include: cases that were dismissed, charges that were dropped, investigations that were ended, professional licenses that were maintained, and jail time that was avoided.
Applicable Defenses. Many white-collar crimes, including tax crimes, have affirmative defenses that, if proven, eliminate a defendant’s liability for a crime, even if all other elements of the crime are proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We utilize our comprehensive knowledge of federal criminal law and procedure to fully explore and promote any affirmative defenses our clients may have. In the case of tax crimes, for example, a defendant’s reliance on a qualified tax preparer is an affirmative defense to charges that the defendant committed tax evasion or included false statements on a tax return.
Why Do Clients Trust Oberheiden & McMurrey?
Oberheiden & McMurrey has gained a reputation as trusted legal advisors for effectively protecting individuals, professional licenses, and businesses against federal investigations.
1. Our Experience
Oberheiden & McMurrey offers clients a team of attorneys with distinct backgrounds to handle government investigations. Former Department of Justice Trial Attorneys, former Assistant United States Attorneys, and former Special Assistant United States Attorneys offer our clients reliable advice in times of crisis. Years in senior government positions and long serving careers as federal prosecutors allow our attorneys to provide competent guidance what to do and what not to do when dealing with the federal government and agencies like the IRS, the FBI, or the Department of Justice.
2. Focus on Federal Cases
Oberheiden & McMurrey is a federal criminal defense law firm. Our practice focus is almost exclusively on federal law, federal audits, federal trials, federal appeals, federal investigations, and the defense of federal criminal charges. Many of our attorneys come from distinguished and senior positions within the Department of Justice and local U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Oberheiden & McMurrey conserves this very valuable federal law enforcement experience by offering insights, contacts, and strategies to our clients.
3. Results & Commitment
Oberheiden & McMurrey is proud of its track record. Our attorneys have resolved a great number of federal cases with no civil and no criminal liability outcomes for our clients. Our attorneys have turned targets of federal investigations into witnesses, we have converted criminal cases into civil cases, we have convinced the government to end audits and investigations against our clients, and we have saved professional licenses and avoided jail time on more than a few occasions. When you choose Oberheiden & McMurrey, you can rest assured that your legal team is doing everything possible to protect you, your business, and your family.
Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP
Oberheiden & McMurrey represents individuals and businesses against federal investigations, grand jury subpoenas, and federal criminal charges. Our attorneys offer years of Department of Justice experience mixed with an impeccable track record of successful case outcomes as federal defense attorneys. We routinely work with our former colleagues at the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies and we are available to assist you with your case as well.
- Nick Oberheiden has successfully represented business executives, business owners, public officials, licensed professionals, and lawyers in high profile prosecutions, scores of cases involving fraud charges, government investigations, and media campaigns. A great number of these investigations resulted in no criminal charges against his clients.
- Bill McMurrey is a former Department of Justice trial attorney, former Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), and former federal prosecutor in charge of white-collar offenses, including tax offenses. Bill’s enormous experience with federal investigations and grand jury proceedings helps clients to clearly understand all options and to benefit from proven defense strategies.
- Heath Hyde is a former long time prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office who offers clients the experience of more than 400 criminal trials, hundreds of felony prosecutions, and approximately 1,000 grand jury investigations.
- Lynette S. Byrd is a former Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). Clients greatly benefit from Lynette’s experience from the Department of Justice, where she prosecuted federal violations on behalf of the United States. Lynette has immense experience with law enforcement investigations and she regularly argues federal matters for her clients.
We are available every day of the year, including on weekends. You can call us directly, complete our contact form, or email us.