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What You Should Do When You Are Under Investigation by the IRS

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IRS Investigation Defense Lawyers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes an aggressive stance against all forms of federal tax fraud. If you are being investigated by the IRS, the attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. can fight to help you avoid facing civil or criminal charges.

When facing an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you need to be smart about protecting yourself. If you make mistakes, you could face civil or criminal charges – and ultimately civil or criminal punishment. In civil tax fraud cases, the federal government can seek up to $500,000 in fines (plus back taxes and interest); and, if the government decides to press criminal charges, you can face up to five years behind bars.

This, of course, assumes that the government doesn’t seek to charge your alleged tax fraud as identify theft. If the IRS accuses you of identity theft (for example, using someone else’s identity to file a tax return or diverting a tax refund), the potential prison sentence increases to a term of incarceration of 15 years.

Needless to say, if you are being investigated by the IRS, you need to take your situation extremely seriously.

About the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Internal Revenue Service is the agency responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the federal government. Each year, the IRS processes trillions of dollars in tax payments and well over 200 million federal tax returns.

However, the IRS does more than just deal with tax returns. The IRS is also responsible for administering the Internal Revenue Code, and it has a Criminal Investigation division that is tasked with investigating and assisting in the prosecution of federal tax crimes. This includes tax fraud, as well as certain forms of identity theft.

I Just Found Out That I Am Being Investigated by the IRS. What Should I Do?

If you are being investigated by the IRS, there are several steps that you need to try to take right away. The most important of these is to hire an experienced federal defense attorney. Once you choose an attorney, he or she will be able to open a dialogue with the IRS to find out why you are being investigated and whether the investigation is civil or criminal in nature.

At this point, it is also important for you to be extremely cautious about providing information to the IRS. Generally speaking, you do not want to disclose any information that you are not legally required to disclose without first consulting your lawyer. You also want to be careful about discussing the investigation with anyone outside of your legal team (and you certainly want to avoid discussing it on social media). If the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division uncovers incriminating information through other sources (such as family members, co-workers, or Facebook), it can – and will – use it against you.

Did I Really Commit Tax Fraud?

For many individuals and company executives, facing an IRS investigation comes as a complete surprise. The Internal Revenue Code is extraordinarily complicated, and most people and organizations do everything they can to comply. This often means hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to file tax returns on your behalf.

If you are facing an IRS investigation, you need to remember this: Being the target of an investigation does not mean that you are guilty of tax fraud. The IRS’s investigation could be completely off-target. Or, even if you (or your CPA) made a mistake in filing your taxes, you may have lacked the necessary “intent” in order to be held criminally liable. We regularly represent clients who have unintentionally made mistakes like:

  • Failing to timely file all or a portion of their tax return
  • Filing a false (incorrect) tax return
  • Filing false (incorrect) supporting documentation
  • Failing to timely pay taxes that are legally owed

If you made an unintentional mistake, you should not be at risk for facing criminal penalties. You need to convince the IRS to keep your investigation civil – and this requires the help of an experienced federal tax fraud attorney.

How Do I Choose a Law Firm for My IRS Investigation Defense?

When choosing a law firm to represent you, there are a few key considerations that you need to keep in mind. First, not all law firms are alike. While some firms also handle federal investigations while representing clients in a wide variety of civil and criminal matters, other firms are devoted to helping individuals and companies protect themselves against the IRS and other federal agencies.

Second, experience matters. Remember: You are facing off against the IRS. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars at stake. You could even be facing prison time. If there was ever a time, now is the time to put experience on your side.

Third, you need your criminal defense lawyer to be devoted to your cause. If you choose an attorney who practices in other areas or who has taken on too large of a caseload, your investigation is not going to receive the attention it needs in order to give you the best chance of avoiding federal charges.

With these considerations in mind, here are five traits to look for in the law firm that you choose for your IRS investigation:

  1. Experience on Both Sides of IRS Investigations. This includes experience defending clients against the IRS and experience representing the federal government. At the Oberheiden, P.C., several of our defense attorneys are former federal prosecutors who spent decades representing the government in investigations and prosecutions. Our inside knowledge allows us to anticipate the IRS’s tactics and strategize against them.
  2. Senior Attorneys Devoted to Every Investigation. At large firms, many clients spend the majority of their investigations dealing with junior attorneys, or even paralegals. When senior attorneys step in, they often lack the background and insights that come from having a hand directly involved in each stage of the investigation. At Oberheiden, P.C., we take a different approach. Our senior attorneys handle our clients’ investigations from start to finish.
  3. A Comprehensive Team Approach. When experience matters, the more of it you have, the better. At Oberheiden, P.C., we maximize the experience behind each client’s defense by taking a comprehensive team approach to our clients’ federal investigations. When you work with us, you will directly benefit from the unique insights, knowledge, and skillset that each of our defense attorneys and former federal prosecutors has to offer.
  4. A Record of Success Prior to Trial. If at all possible, you want your case to be over before you ever face civil or criminal charges. This means intervening early and taking an aggressive, strategic approach during the investigation. At Oberheiden, P.C., each of our attorneys has a strong track record of resolving clients’ federal investigations before they lead to civil or criminal charges.
  5. The Willingness and Ability to Do What It Takes to Protect You. Some lawyers have drive but lack experience. Others have intimate knowledge of the law but lack the dedication to do whatever it takes to win for their clients. At Oberheiden, P.C., we offer the unique combination of decades of relevant experience and a passionate commitment to protecting our clients.

Where Can I Learn More About How to Protect Myself and What to Expect During My IRS Investigation?

The attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. have published a number of free resources for individuals and company executives whose businesses have become targets of IRS tax fraud investigations. To learn more about what to expect during your investigation, and what you need to do if your investigation results in (or has already resulted in) a criminal indictment, we encourage you to review the following:

In addition, when you engage our firm for your IRS investigation, we will provide you with our “Emergency Defense Package.” The Emergency Defense Package includes protocols, instructions, forms, and other resources that you can use to aid in preparing your defense. There are a number of steps that you need to take (and mistakes you need to avoid) to protect yourself during your investigation, and our Emergency Defense Package gives you the tools you need to (i) make smart decisions and (ii) collect the information we will need to defend you during your investigation.

Get Started on Your Defense with a Free Consultation at Oberheiden, P.C.

For more information about your IRS investigation and to find out what we can do to help, we encourage you to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our team of senior defense attorneys. We are happy to answer your questions, and if you choose to hire us, we can take action immediately to get started on your defense. To request an appointment, submit our defense evaluation form or call (800) 701-7249 today.

This information has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Reading of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes. Oberheiden, P.C. is a Texas LLP with headquarters in Dallas. Mr. Oberheiden limits his practice to federal law.
Orange County 714-294-2000
Los Angeles 310-873-8140
Detroit 313-888-8807
Nationwide 888-452-2503