What You Should Do When You Are Under Investigation by the United States Internal Revenue Service?
Internal Revenue Service Investigations are extremely serious and may result in federal civil or criminal charges. If you or your business are facing an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, you need to act quickly to protect your interests.
About the United States Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a federal executive agency housed within the Department of the Treasury. The IRS manages the federal tax system, including administering and enforcing internal revenue laws. The enforcement functions of the IRS include investigating suspected federal tax fraud as well as other related crimes, such as identity theft.
Key Mistakes to Avoid
1. Do Not Speak to Investigators
It is very common for IRS investigators to approach targets of their investigation for an interview before the target is notified about the investigation. Typically, the investigators tell the target that the target is merely a witness to an investigation into someone else, and they attempt to solicit incriminating evidence from the unwitting target. This practice is an investigative tactic designed to catch targets off guard and without the presence of defense counsel. You should beware – any time you are approached by investigators, you should assume you are the target of the investigation.
Moreover, whether you are a target or not, you have the right to decline a voluntary interview with investigators, and assertion of this right cannot be held against you in court. As soon as you are approached by investigators, you should call an attorney and have your attorney handle and arrange all further discussions with investigators. Any time you speak with investigators without an attorney, you are on a vastly uneven playing field and you risk incriminating yourself.
2. Do Not Communicate About Your Case
To the greatest extent possible, you should avoid discussing the details of your case and the IRS investigation with anyone other than your attorney. Government attorneys can – and usually do – subpoena communication records, including emails, text messages, phone records, and facsimiles. Thus, anything you discuss through electronic means will likely be disclosed to the government and used as evidence against you in court.
Government attorneys may subpoena anyone with information about your case to testify in court regarding what they know. Thus, if you tell your friends, family members, or colleagues details about your case, any or all of those people may be ordered to disclose that information under penalty of perjury. The best way to protect yourself from this situation happening is to remain tight lipped and keep the details of your case to yourself.
3. Avoid Social Media/Online Forums
Like communication records, the government may also demand records of communications or posts conducted through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. The subpoena may be issued to you or the social media company you communicated through.
Additionally, investigators may be able to track your activity on online forums, even those where you think you are posting anonymously. If you discuss the details of your case online, investigators will likely find that information and use it against you in your case.
4. Do Not Destroy Any Evidence
One of the worst things you can do for your case is attempt to destroy evidence, even if the evidence may be incriminating. Government attorneys take destruction of any evidence very seriously – even evidence that they have not yet requested – and they often pursue criminal charges for obstruction of justice against individuals who they believe intentionally destroyed evidence.
Destroying evidence includes any alteration, deletion, or destruction of hard copy documents, electronic files, and communication records. Additionally, breaking or throwing away electronic devices that contain records, such as cellular phones or computers, may be considered destruction of evidence.
Hiring the Right Defense Counsel
Don’t Wait! An experienced federal defense attorney will help you navigate the investigative process even before any charges are filed against you, and the quicker you have defense counsel on your side, the less likely charges will ever be filed.
Federal Experience. IRS investigations are handled by federal investigators and proceed through the federal court system. The federal court system has different procedures than state court systems and federal prosecutors and judges tend to have superior education and sophistication than their state counterparts. Thus, if you are under investigation by the IRS, you need a defense attorney with experience in the federal court system and with a pedigree on par with federal prosecutors. Likewise, you want a defense attorney who is familiar with local federal investigators and the local United States Attorney’s office.
Government Experience. Defense attorneys who have formerly worked for the government have a unique and valuable perspective of both sides of investigations and prosecutions. Therefore, you should look for an attorney with prosecutorial experience, particularly one who has worked in a United States Attorney’s office.
Accessibility. If you are under investigation by the IRS, getting in touch with your attorney should be the least of your concerns. You want an attorney who is available to take your calls, answer your questions, and respond to your concerns.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
- Nick Oberheiden has years of healthcare fraud defense experience, and has successfully defended doctors, pharmacies, laboratories, and healthcare business owners and executives against allegations of fraud, false claims, kickbacks, and prescription fraud, brought by the DOJ, OIG, CMS, IRS, FBI, DEA, DOD (Department of Defense), and other federal agencies. Dr. Oberheiden is trained in negotiations by Harvard Law School, and he received his Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law as well as a PhD in law.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Oberheiden, P.C. Today
Oberheiden, P.C. is experienced in federal criminal defense. Our attorneys are former federal prosecutors and veteran criminal defense lawyers who represent clients in investigations and judicial proceedings throughout the United States. Call Oberheiden, P.C. today to discuss how we may be able to help you in your case.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founder of Oberheiden P.C., focuses his litigation practice on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, SEC & FCPA enforcement, and commercial litigation.