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Judge decides to make example at tax evasion sentencing

Accusations of cheating the IRS can result in criminal charges in addition to any consequences levied by the agency. Those who end up facing criminal penalties for tax evasion will often find themselves standing before a U.S. District Court judge. If convicted, an individual could face a wide range of penalties that may not include incarceration. Of course, that assumes that a judge does not decide to make an example of him or her.

A small business owner in a state close to Massachusetts recently went before a U.S. District Court judge who did just that. He was convicted of failing to pay more than $200,000 in taxes owed to the government. Despite numerous character references from friends, family members and employees, the judge ordered the man to spend nine months in jail, followed by supervised release for one year thereafter and pay a $5,000 fine.

The judge said the evidence showed the man did not simply make a mistake. Instead, some of his actions indicated he knew what he was doing and intended to evade paying taxes. He deposited business checks into his personal account and underreported his income by hundreds of thousands of dollars for the 2012 and 2013 tax years. His defense argued that he did not accumulate his wealth through tax evasion and that his business could suffer in his absence. The court disagreed.

Mistakes do happen, even when it comes to filing taxes. However, the IRS could claim that an individual engaged in tax evasion. From the moment a Massachusetts resident discovers that he or she could face such allegations, it would be wise to gain an understanding of his or her rights and take steps to protect them. In the event charges are filed, having a legal advocate who routinely handles criminal charges involving tax controversies could make all the difference.

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