Greenville Tax Evasion Attorneys
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People have always looked to avoid paying taxes. Many tools are available to help individuals minimize their tax obligations. Many of these strategies – while complex – are completely legal. There are cases, however, where the IRS may believe an individual or organization is deliberately and unlawfully attempting to avoid paying their fair share. This crime, called tax evasion, is a federal offense.
If you have been accused of participating in a tax evasion scheme, our experienced team at Southeastern Tax Advocates can help. Our Greenville tax evasion lawyers, including Verne McGough who is board certified in tax law, are deeply familiar with how these cases are adjudicated. Our parent firm, Merline & Meacham, P.A. , has been serving South Carolina taxpayers since 1970 and can leverage our decades of institutional knowledge to provide you with the skilled guidance you need.
The Difference Between Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion
It is important to understand that tax avoidance is not the same thing as tax evasion. Practically everyone participates in tax avoidance by leveraging various elements of the U.S. Tax Code. “Avoidance” in this context simply refers to the act of legally reducing your tax obligation.
This can be done through claiming deductions you qualify for, operating a business entity, or utilizing tax credits. A licensed tax professional can help individuals and organizations identify and implement legal tax avoidance strategies.
Tax evasion comes into play when an individual or organization intentionally attempts to pay less than what they reasonably know they owe. Most types of tax evasion are fraudulent in nature.
What Are the Most Common Types of Tax Evasion?
Common types of tax evasion include:
- Intentionally excluding or underreporting income. You are required to report all forms of income to the appropriate taxing authorities. Deliberately omitting job income, rental income, or business income all fall under this category. Remember: The IRS and South Carolina Department of Revenue typically receive information about your income through other sources, including your employers. They can often quickly determine if you are underreporting.
- Deliberately claiming deductions you do not qualify for or overstating deductions. Many tax filers will take advantage of available deductions to minimize what they owe. However, you must be careful to only claim deductions you irrefutably qualify for, and you should always expect the IRS or SC Department of Revenue to check your work.
- Claiming personal expenses as business expenses. If you run a business, you likely “expense” many types of purchases and investments that support your commercial enterprise. You must be careful not to claim expenses that are exclusively for personal use as business expenses. Navigating this area of tax law can sometimes be tricky, as some items – such as a vehicle or computer – have personal and professional uses.
- Concealing assets. As an individual or business, you must be honest and forthright about your asset holdings. Attempting to “hide” assets in fraudulent accounts or transferring assets to a third party to avoid detection can constitute tax evasion.
- Keeping fraudulent financial records. If you operate a business, you must keep accurate financial records that are consistent with what you file in your tax return. “Cooking the books” to avoid paying taxes is a common form of commercial tax evasion.
- Disguising payments and transactions. Some individuals and businesses will attempt to mask transactions and move money around to avoid paying the appropriate taxes.
Can An Unfiled Tax Return be Considered Tax Evasion?
You are not necessarily guilty of tax evasion if you have failed to file your taxes on time. Unfiled tax returns can result in serious financial penalties, but the IRS will generally only pursue tax evasion charges if it believes you are intentionally attempting to cheat them. However, the IRS considers 3 consecutive unfiled returns as a factor in potential tax evasion cases.
Proving tax evasion requires demonstrating that a taxpayer deliberately shortchanged the IRS or another taxing authority. If the taxpayer paid less than what they owed but did so unintentionally and can prove it, they will need to make up the difference – but they are less likely to be charged with criminal tax evasion.
Our Greenville tax evasion attorneys can help you combat these serious charges. Overcoming tax evasion allegations requires proving that either you paid the appropriate amount in taxes (and thus no offense occurred) or that you did not intentionally intend to pay less than what you owe. Comprehensive recordkeeping can help facilitate a strong defense.
The repercussions can be serious if the IRS determines you committed criminal tax evasion. This is considered a felony federal offense, and individual offenders can be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to up to 5 years in prison per offense (each fraudulent tax return will likely result in a separate charge). Corporations can be fined up to $500,000. Offenders will also be responsible for paying prosecution costs in addition to any outstanding tax debt.
The SC Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) may also prosecute state-level tax evasion cases. A felony tax evasion in South Carolina can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 3 years in prison.
If you discover you are being investigated by the IRS or the SC Department of Revenue, immediately contact our Greenville tax evasion lawyers. Avoid speaking to any investigators without a legal representative present. Our team can assist you with cases involving federal, state, sale, or foreign taxes. We can review the details of your situation and determine how to move forward. Southeastern Tax Advocates is committed to protecting your interests and will do everything legally possible to attempt to secure a favorable outcome in your case.
 Southeastern Tax Advocates is a subsidiary of Merline & Meacham, P.A. All client cases will be handled by an attorney of Merline & Meacham, P.A. who primarily practices in one of our offices at 812 East North Street, Greenville, SC 29601 or 723 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201.
Any result the law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
“I have known and worked with Verne McGough, for years. As a fellow attorney but in a different field of practice, he is the ONLY tax attorney to whom I will refer anyone. He is organized, prompt, and extremely knowledgeable in his field.”- Eydie T. (Attorney, Not a Client)
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