“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax” – Albert Einstein. Here we are, decades later and tens of millions of Americans are once again struggling with trying to understand tax forms and confusing instructions. Most people will muddle through or get help with either Turbo Tax or a paid preparer. Some, however, think they can outsmart the IRS and simply not pay.
Although no one likes paying taxes, my former years as an Assistant Attorney General – Tax taught me that working Americans dislike even more those that cheat on their taxes. Why? Because if you don’t pay, we must pay more. Ultimately, the government’s bills will get paid and the cost of tax cheats is simply passed along to everyone else.
Last week a couple from Etters, Pennsylvania was sentenced to prison for tax evasion and attempting to bribe an IRS revenue agent. According to court records, Ivan Garces was sentenced to 18 months in prison and his wife Mayra, 12 months and 1 day.
Prosecutors say the bribery charges began while the Garces’ were being audited. During the audit, the couple offered (and later delivered) a $50,000 cash bribe to the agent in exchange for not including 0ther years in the audit. Rather than pocket the money, the agent reported the couple to the Criminal Investigation Division of IRS.
Prior to being sentenced, the Garces’ paid the IRS $893,000. That sum includes the $50,000 which the court ordered forfeited.
Normally a tax evasion and public bribery case of that magnitude would generate a much larger sentence. We think the court was moved by the huge amount of upfront restitution paid by the couple.
As is normal in tax evasion cases during tax filing season, both the IRS and U.S. Attorney issued press statements.
Harrisburg IRS Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner said, “Tax evasion is not a victimless crime. We all pay when others swindle the government. This sentence should send a clear message: schemes to evade the payment of taxes are a violation of the Federal Tax laws and the consequences of such schemes can and will result in jail time. Honest taxpayers have been reassured today that no one is above the law–especially when the integrity of tax administration is at stake.”
According to the complaint filed in court, the tax evasion charge stems from filing false returns. Although filing a false return itself is a felony, to be elevated to tax evasion, there must be some affirmative act of evasion. Evidently bribing the IRS is enough.
Obviously, if you can’t pay your taxes, the best course of action is to still file accurate returns. An honest return with no money beats a false return any day. Bribing public officials rarely works either.
Our criminal tax lawyers have helped people across the United States avoid criminal prosecution and prison. For more information about collections and audits, contact attorney Bethany Canfield at or by telephone at (414) 223-0464. Facing tax evasion charges? Contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are kept in strict confidence and protected by the attorney-client privilege. IRS legal services provided nationwide.
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