I say it all the time, but taxes are never simple. It also appears that tax fraud criminal cases can also feel complicated.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the IRS’s criminal division only brought 795 cases last year in which tax fraud was the primary crime. That is an astoundingly small number. Heck, it’s plausible that in a week you could list 795 people whose names you come across in your personal circle that paid taxes.
At the same time, though, tax evasion is also the highlight of the criminal cases against two former associates of President Trump, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. So the number of people who face these cases is small, but it may not matter who you are, or how much money you have, when it comes to having charges brought against you. It can feel a little more daunting is everyone is vulnerable
Also in the Times last week came a lengthy report on President Trump himself and the history of his finances. It was so lengthy that any attempt at summation does it an injustice, but let’s just say it includes claims of tax schemes devised to not pay what the president’s family legitimately owed.
On the heels of this report, New York state and city officials said that they will look at those allegations. That’s not (or maybe just not yet) yet to the level of the IRS, but it is at least another possible high-profile case of tax dealings being investigated.
Now I am sure that there are a number of taxpayers (and their advisers) who use less-than-scrupulous tactics to get more money back from, or at least pay less to, the government. And with this small number of tax fraud criminal cases, and the ever decreasing number of audits as the IRS receives less and less funding, more people are probably getting away with it.
When I read about cases like those above, though, when things catch up to the cheats, I can only imagine how their heart must drop. When you abuse the tax system to that degree, you must know that what you’re doing is unscrupulous and that there is the chance it will catch up to you. You can make some moves to make things look okay on paper, sure, but that falls away when someone pays attention to it.
It is such situations that also make me wonder when I hear people talk about how the system favors the rich. The rich may be able to afford the people who can help them work best within the system, but even that service they pay for. And if they try to go outside of the legality of the system, they can get caught, too. I can understand envy of the rich, but it is not like they’re operating with different rules here.
Even those who don’t live with elite levels of wealth, though, can use the system to their best legal advantage and there are professionals also willing to help you do that. I can never say that this service will be cheap, but I pride myself in being committed to serving my clients to the best of my ability, and in a way where they don’t have to keep looking over their shoulder.
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