In our no-cost consultations, J David Tax Law in Jacksonville, FL receives this question weekly: Will the IRS or State tax agencies really pursue criminal charges, and do they put people in jail for tax crimes? The answer is undeniably, YES. The good news is that in our estimation, during 2021 alone, our experienced criminal tax attorneys kept 81 clients from jail time for tax fraud, tax evasion, and failure to pay sales tax.
During 2021 the IRS prosecuted thousands of criminal tax cases with a 91% conviction rate. The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) division serves the American public in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes.
As the criminal investigations arm of the IRS, IRS-CI is responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft, and more. Boasting a nearly 90 percent federal conviction rate, IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code.
A portion of criminal tax cases come out of ordinary civil audits, and that is a frightening fact. When an IRS auditor discovers something suspicious during a civil audit, the auditor has the ability to notify the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division. It is worth noting, the IRS is not obligated to tell you when this criminal referral occurs. In fact, in most cases, the civil auditors will often suspend the audit without an explanation. You may feel relieved, thinking the audit is over, or at least mercifully stalled and may not ever resume. All the while, the IRS is quietly building a criminal case against you, which is a way an IRS audit can become a criminal investigation.
The following list includes the top 10 IRS Criminal Prosecutions for 2021
8. Two Orlando sisters sentenced in $25 million tax fraud scheme. Petra Gomez along with her co-conspirator, her sister, Jakeline Lumucso, sentenced to eight and four years in federal prison, respectively. The two operated a tax preparation business from five locations in central Florida. From 2012 to 2016, they filed more than 16,000 false tax returns for clients with a total estimated loss to the IRS of $25 million.
7. Russian bank founder sentenced for evading exit tax after renouncing U.S. citizenship. Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, was ordered to pay more than $248 million in taxes and sentenced to time-served and one year of supervised release. He was charged with renouncing his U.S. citizenship and attempting to conceal large stock gains that were reportable to the IRS after the company he founded became a multibillion dollar, publicly traded company.
5. Bitcoin exchange owner sentenced to prison for money laundering. Bulgarian National Rossen G. Iossifov sentenced to 121 months in federal prison for participating in a scheme in which popular online auction and sales websites — such as eBay and Craigslist — falsely advertised high-cost goods that did not actually exist (typically vehicles). After the victims sent payment for the goods, the conspiracy engaged in a complicated money laundering scheme where associates in the US would accept the victim’s funds, convert the funds to cryptocurrency, and then transfer the cryptocurrency to money launderers in other countries.
4. Ex-Orange County church pastor to serve 14 years in federal prison for orchestrating $33 million con to defraud investors. The ex-pastor of the Church of the Health Self, Kent R.E. Whitney is sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $22.66 million in restitution to victims after orchestrating a church-based investment scam that defrauded investors of $33 million. Church representatives appeared, at his direction, on television and during live seminars to make false and misleading claims in an effort to lure investors to invest in church entities. More than $33 million of victim funds were sent to the church and they received fabricated monthly statements reassuring them that their funds had been invested, when in truth, very little money was ever invested.
2. DC Solar owner to serve 30 years in prison for billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Jeff Carpoff, the owner of California-based DC Solar, is sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and forfeits $120 million in assets to the U.S. government for victim restitution after he created a Ponzi-scheme selling thousands of manufactured mobile solar generator units (MSGs) that didn’t exist. He committed account and lease revenue fraud while using the proceeds to purchase a sports team, luxury vehicles, real estate, and a NASCAR team.
1. San Fernando Valley family members to serve years in prison for fraudulently obtaining tens of millions of COVID relief dollars. The Ayvazyan family received sentences ranging from 10 months of probation to 17.5 years in prison for their crimes ranging from bank and wire fraud to aggravated identity theft. Using stolen and fictitious identities to submit 150 fraudulent applications for COVID-relief funds, the family sent phony payroll records and tax documents, to the Small Business Administration. They then used the funds they received to purchase luxury homes, gold coins, jewelry, designer handbags and more. Prior to their sentencing hearing, Richard Ayvazyan and his wife Terabelian cut their ankle monitoring devices and absconded; they are currently fugitives.
Our Criminal Tax Attorneys & Tax Fraud Lawyers in Jacksonville, FL Can Help You
He is the founder and Managing Partner of J. David Tax Law®. He is the winner of the 2019 Ultimate Tax Attorney awarded by the Jacksonville Business Journal. This award recognizes law firms and attorneys who show exemplary professional talent and skill while demonstrating superior client care, leadership, charitable concern, and civic engagement. Jonathan graduated from Chapman University School of Law. He has practiced law since 2011.
We provide tax solutions for our clients who have IRS and state tax debts, unfiled returns, audits, etc. We advise you on future compliance that enables your individual or business tax problems to be behind you for good.
7077 Bonneval Rd Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32216