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Three lessons from the recent Ronaldo tax evasion case

Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer superstar from Portugal, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of tax evasion. Ronaldo entered a Madrid court this past Tuesday and plead guilty, agreeing to pay a fine of $21.6 million dollars for his alleged tax fraud crimes.

A bit of history: The basis of the allegations

In 2017, Spanish authorities accused Ronaldo of using offshore accounts to avoid tax obligations on his income from soccer and other, primarily marketing related, sources. Initially, Ronaldo stated he would fight the charges. However, in 2018 Ronaldo accepted a deal with the Spanish authorities. As part of the deal, he will pay the fine noted above and will also serve two years’ probation in exchange for pleading guilty to four charges of tax fraud.

Foreign tax crime provides lessons at home: Application of case to U.S. allegations

Although not a case out of the United States, it provides universal lessons. Three of which include:

  • Tax obligations are mandatory, no matter who you are. Average Joe or soccer super star, government agencies responsible for tax collection do not care. Those who avoid taxes can face serious penalties and potential imprisonment.
  • Use of shell companies to hide assets does not work. Although the use of shell companies is not always illegal, the use of these entities to avoid tax obligations is. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is familiar with these tactics and at some point, the agency will likely discover offenders.
  • Options are available. Although the best course of action depends on the details of each case, those accused of tax evasion have options. Some examples can include fighting the charges or, like Ronaldo, negotiating a plea deal.

If you find yourself facing similar allegations, an attorney can help. Contact a lawyer experienced in tax issues, particularly the niche area of offshore account issues, to better ensure your legal rights are protected.

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