Tax Fraud Means Prison Terms for TV Personalities

tax fraudFailure to file an income tax return is just one of the tax crimes for which reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms.


The reality television show “Chrisley Knows Best” chronicles the life of real estate businessman Todd Chrisley, his second wife Julie, and their five children. First aired in 2014, the show invites viewers to tag along as the family works its way through family drama and an unabashedly wealthy lifestyle. Ultimately, their wealth became their undoing.


In June of this year, Mr. and Mrs. Chrisley were tried on several criminal tax charges related to efforts to defraud local banks, and eventually, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). On the television program, Mr. Chrisley was characterized as a real estate “tycoon.” According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the couple was extensively involved in financial fraud long before they made their way onto a reality TV show. 


Evidence presented at their three-week trial showed the couple and a business partner also used false documentation to obtain approximately $30 million in personal loans from banks in the Atlanta area. The Chrisley’s used the money to create the façade of wealth, buying luxury vehicles, clothes, and real property. The couple used new loans to pay back older loans while spending lavishly. Ultimately, Mr. Chrisley took out bankruptcy and was able to see $20 million in debt discharged.


By the time the Chrisley’s initiated their reality show, the couple was funneling money into accounts owned by Julie Chrisley in order to skirt paying $500,000 in delinquent taxes owed by Mr. Chrisley. When the IRS discovered the holding company of Ms. Chrisley, a decidedly dim decision was made by the couple to roll money from those accounts into an account owned by Mr. Chrisley’s mother. Evidence at trial revealed Mr. Chrisley had overall control of the accounts.


Between 2013 and 2016, the Chrisley’s did not file income tax returns. Oddly, Mr. Chrisley claimed on a radio show that he paid taxes of approximately $750,000 each year—although he was not filing tax returns at the time.


In this instance, a couple concocted elaborate fraud and tax schemes—repeatedly. When it was apparent the IRS was conducting a criminal tax investigation, the couple brazenly provided false documents and tried to hide the money. For their efforts, the couple and their accountant were convicted in a jury trial. Mr. Chrisley and Mrs. Chrisley were sentenced to 12 and seven years in federal prison, respectively.


This couple lived big and fell hard. If you are involved in tax evasion, payroll tax issues, or other criminal tax matters—do not wait for the IRS to show interest in your books. Speak with an experienced criminal tax defense attorney about your options.


Concerned about the IRS?  Our tax defense lawyers can help

If you are involved in tax fraud, our knowledgeable legal team delivers aggressive defense representation. Serving clients nationwide from offices in Cleveland and Chicago, Robert J. Fedor Esq., LLC provides trusted counsel on criminal tax defense, offshore tax investments, and compliance matters. Call us at 800.579.0997 or contact us today.


Understanding Tax Fraud