Robert J. Fedor, Esq., L.L.C.

In IRS criminal tax cases, the burden of proof is on the government

We talk a lot in this blog about the complexities of U.S. tax codes and how confusion surrounding their meaning and interpretation can spell trouble for a taxpayer. There are also, however, other cases where individuals intentionally sets out to deceive or profit from the IRS. In these types of cases, the burden of proof is on the government to provide evidence that an individual knowingly and intentionally took action to deceive the IRS and personally profit.

A recent case out of Ohio provides an example of a case in which three individuals deliberately took action to defraud the U.S. government. A 35-year-old Ohio man was recently sentenced to serve a total of eight years and three months in prison for his role in leading an identity theft and tax fraud operation that netted $3.5 million in fraudulent tax returns.

IRS investigators determined the 35 year old, together with his two accomplices, stole identifying information from more than 500 people which the three then used to file false tax documents and collect tax returns. Upon noticing the misspelling of city names listed on several tax documents, IRS investigators began an investigation which ultimately resulted in the three individuals being charged with numerous tax crimes including wire fraud, identity theft and tax fraud.

This case provides an example of an IRS criminal case where the government had convincing and compelling evidence to prove the guilt of the defendants. It's important to note, however, that the government often lacks such evidence or is unable to prove that an individual's action or inaction was intentional. Even in cases where an individual plans to plead guilty to criminal tax charges, a defense attorney will defend his or her rights and may be able to negotiate more favorable sentencing terms.

The Columbus Dispatch, "Westerville man sentenced in $3.5 million tax-refund scheme," Kathy Lynn Gray, Aug. 22, 2014

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