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Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fifth Degree: NY Tax Law 1802

Criminal tax fraud in the fifth degree is a serious crime under the New York State Penal Code 1802. As a class A misdemeanor, a conviction of this violation carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a three-year probationary term. Additionally, an individual convicted of fifth degree tax fraud may also be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000 or equivalent to twice the amount of the monetary gain represented by the crime.

The Basics of Fifth Degree Criminal Tax Fraud
New York law requires that an individual willingly fails to “make, render, sign, certify, or file” documents related to income tax returns, or reports required to be filed under the law. Additionally, the same conditions apply in instances where the individual causes another to willingly violate the terms of the criminal tax fraud act.

A second condition of this act also establishes that knowledge of false or misleading statements or information is also a factor in establishing tax fraud. This includes omitting information on documents filed with any state office or representative in relation to the filing of returns and reports. Similarly, a third condition gives greater clarification by establishing the supply of any false or fraudulent information given on a return, audit, or investigation may constitute another charge of criminal tax fraud. The law also provides for the act of scheming to defraud the government at any level through deception for the purposes of profit or avoiding the payment of taxes.

Following these conditions, New York State Penal Code 1802 also covers the collection of taxes and failure to pay as a condition of tax fraud. Where an individual is required to remit payment to the state, or a representative or office of that state, the individual is also guilty of tax fraud. By failure to pay, the state may choose to prove an intent to evade paying taxes, which establishes a separate count of the law.
Finally, the criminal tax fraud law in New York State also establishes that claiming an exemption, where none exists, is also an element of tax fraud. To prove this condition, however, the state must be able to show you filed for an exemption for which you knew you did not qualify. In such a case, the state may seek to show that you either omitted information or supplied misleading or false information in order to qualify for the exemption.

Defending Against Criminal Tax Fraud
When it comes to tax fraud charges, the severity of the charge determines your penalty, which may constitute a combination of jail time and monetary fines. The initial charge may be criminal tax fraud in the fifth degree, but the prosecution may look for ways to elevate the charges to a more serious crime, or may even file multiple charges against you. What started out as a one-year jail sentence can end up costing you 25 years in state prison.

In circumstances where there are four reporting periods within a year and, for each period, you withheld under $3,000, the fifth degree criminal tax fraud violation will likely remain, but more ambitious prosecutors may employ tactics to raise the stakes in your case. For example, criminal codes in New York permit the prosecutor to take the total sum of your violations, $12,000 in this case, to apply a third degree criminal tax fraud charge. In so doing, the district attorney can ask for a prison term up to seven years.
additionally, the state can add other charges, such as Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, dependent upon the specific circumstances of your case. Even where those charges can’t be applied, the district attorney may pursue charges of forgery and the falsification of documents. In most cases, the prosecution will add some additional charges to the initial fifth degree criminal tax fraud charge.

In consulting an experienced attorney to help defend you against charges that you have violated New York State Penal Code 1802, it’s important to provide the lawyer with as much documentation as you can provide. Additionally, add any details that might provide corroboration for your defense, including witnesses or other evidence. By supplying your attorney with as much evidence and details as you have, he can better analyze the merits of your case and determine your best course of action. Even where the attorney may not be able to secure a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal, he may be able to get you a reduced sentence. There are a number of ways a defense attorney can benefit your case, beyond what you might be able to accomplish without a legal advocate. For that reason, it’s inadvisable for you to try to represent yourself. The prosecutor will have a wealth of experience and legal knowledge at his disposal. By enlisting a knowledgeable defense attorney, you can level the playing field.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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