A Cleveland lawyer was charged with tax evasion after the IRS claimed he failed to pay income taxes for several years. The IRS says that between 2006 and 2011, Ronald Rosenfield, withheld $197,000 in taxes from wages at his law firm but never turned over the money to the IRS.
According to published reports, Rosenfield had prior tax problems. In 2004, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports he owed over $5000 in unpaid property taxes. At that time, he was serving as a city councilman in South Euclid, Ohio. The IRS’ complaint suggests he has not reported his law firm income since 1998! They also say that he didn’t even much of the mail coming from his payroll processing vendor after 2001.
If convicted of the charge, Rosenfield faces five years in prison. He is currently 70 years old.
The charges were filed as an information meaning he has not been indicted by a grand jury. Informations are often filed by prosecutors when a plea agreement has already been worked out. According to court records, Rosenfield entered a guilty plea and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. The plea agreement remains sealed until then meaning no public details are available.
It’s one thing not to pay taxes. Willful failure to pay income tax is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail. If a person has an otherwise clean record, the normal sentence is probation and restitution.
Withholding the money from your paycheck and then not turning the money over in the future is usually treated as a more serious offense. In this case, Ronald Rosenfeld was charged with felony tax evasion instead of the less serious failure to pay charge.
If you owe money to the IRS or state revenue department, don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away. Instead consult with an experienced tax lawyer who can help you resolve the tax debt before the Justice Department gets involved.
The IRS generally does not prosecute people who can’t pay because of some type of personal crisis or those who make a good faith effort to pay. Filing all missing returns is a critical first step . Payment plans (called installment agreements) and offers in compromise can also be useful.
As the case demonstrates, you are never too old to face prosecution. Ignoring mail from the IRS or your payroll company doesn’t mean your tax problems will go away. If you have been out of compliance for several years, seek help from an experienced tax lawyer immediately. It just might save you from prosecution and prison.
Need more information? Our consultations are free and confidential. We represent individuals and businesses before the IRS nationwide. To set up a telephone or in person meeting, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers