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

Judge considers request for $750 million penalty for tax evasion

State and federal agencies take allegations of tax crimes, including tax evasion, very seriously. In many cases, there seems to be no limit to the efforts spent on identifying fraud and then holding the accused responsible. Agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission have substantial resources at their disposal and they may direct them all at a person accused of not paying taxes.

This is why it can be so crucial to work with an attorney should you find yourself in a position where you are being charged with tax crimes. The penalties of a conviction can be very harsh, and an attorney can help protect people from wrongful convictions or overly aggressive sentencing. One example of the possible consequences that a person could face involves two brothers convicted of failing to pay taxes on more than $500 million.

Reports indicate that the brothers, who were successful businessmen and worth about $30 million and $70 million, kept about $500 million in offshore accounts. The accusations allege that the men kept the money in the trust accounts so they could avoid paying taxes on the money.

The SEC has requested that the brothers pay a whopping $750 million for the failure to pay. This, according to a lawyer involved in the case, is completely inappropriate. Not only is there no way the brothers could even pay this amount, but the most that is legally appropriate is closer to $24 million.

It will be up to a judge to decide what how much of a penalty to assign in this case.

This is just one example of how aggressive the authorities can be in the pursuit to punish people convicted of a tax crime. They often want to send a message by pursuing lengthy jail sentences or enormous fines in order to dissuade others from engaging in the same behavior. However, some of these penalties are inappropriate and heavy-handed.

Whether you have been accused, charged, convicted or sentenced for a crime involving tax evasion, it is important to remember that you have the right to speak with an attorney and explore your legal options. In many cases, legal representation can help a person avoid conviction, minimize the exposure to punishment or file an appeal.

Source: The Independent, "Regulator seeks tough penalty for tax evasion case," Larry Neumeister, Aug. 6, 2014

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