The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to crackdown on allegations of tax crime. In fact, the agency is so serious about tax crime that it has a Tax Division composed of over 350 attorneys focused solely on criminal and civil tax crime litigation. These individuals investigate and prosecute those who the agency believes are thwarting their tax obligations. Recently, this led to an investigation in Texas.
What happened in Texas?
The DOJ recently announced a successful investigation and prosecution of a Texas man accused of using stolen identities to file tax returns.
In addition to filing false tax returns, the government was able to show the individual crossed state lines in his alleged commission of the tax crimes. He was accused of working with people in Texas, California, Georgia and Ghana. As a result, the government was able to include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud allegations in the criminal charges.
How did the DOJ build their case?
The agency gathered evidence to show the accused purchased stolen identities from third parties. Part of the agency’s strategy: use of an undercover secret service agent to pose as a potential buyer of stolen identities. In addition to evidence gathered from interactions between this undercover agent and the accused, the agency was also able to show fake tax returns with false reported income to request tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
What are the potential penalties?
The accused faces sentencing in January of 2020. He could receive up to 20 years of prison for each wire fraud and commission to commit wire fraud offense, as well as two years for the aggravated identity theft conviction. He also faces monetary penalties, restitution and supervised release upon completion of his sentence.
What can other Texans learn from this case?
The government takes allegations of tax fraud seriously. It will pursue an investigation and, if possible, build a case against the accused. Those who face similar accusations of federal tax crimes have options. An attorney can discuss potential legal strategies to better ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.