Catholic Priest Sentenced to Prison for Lying to the IRS
Friday, October 13, 2017

Catholic Priest Sentenced to Prison for Lying to the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service has a well deserved reputation as one of the most aggressive collection agencies in the world. When faced with an IRS criminal investigation in Broward County, there are two things you must do. First, seek immediate legal representation from an experienced and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale lawyer with a track record of protecting the rights of each client. Second, and most importantly, always tell the truth. Recently, a San Jose Roman Catholic priest learned that painful lesson. Father Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud.

How to Answer Questions from the IRS

Whether you are facing a tax audit or accused of tax evasion, honesty is always the best policy But if you are accused of tax evasion, there is a right and wrong way to handle an IRS criminal investigation. Before Nguyen admitted to tax evasion and pleaded, IRS agents visited his home with a series of questions. Instead of answering the questions truthfully, Nguyen’s answers were inconsistent and conflicted with evidence gathered by the IRS. His second mistake was not knowing his rights. Under federal law, Nguyen had the right to refuse the interview. He could have politely declined and simply informed the agents his tax attorney would contact the IRS. A nervous and rattled Nguyen continued to dig a deeper hole for himself by answering further questions.

Understanding Your Fifth Amendment Rights

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from incriminating themselves. Many people make the mistake that cooperating with the government will not hurt their case. But without knowledge of any of the questions, it is important to stay quiet until your tax attorney is present. Answering any IRS questions without the supervision of your lawyer can be disastrous, regardless of your communication skills. Even the smallest bit of information from your statements can help the IRS build their case. Keep in mind, the IRS may not always be honest. For example, some people are told they are not the subject of a criminal investigation. It is always important to be cognizant of your right to legal counsel.

Consequences of Lying to the IRS

Providing bad information to the IRS can be extremely costly. Consider the case of Hien Minh Nguyen. In addition to serving 36 months in prison, he will also have to serve three years of supervised release and is forced to pay $1,883,883 in restitution, including $434,518 to the IRS. But more importantly, he will be serving a stern punishment for stealing money from his parishioners and failing to pay taxes for three years.

Are You Facing an IRS Criminal Investigation? Contact The Fort Lauderdale Tax Lawyers at Zuckerman Law, LLC

The accusation of tax evasion is an extremely serious matter. Choosing the right attorney can often make the difference between resolving your tax problems with the IRS or spending time behind bars. Fort Lauderdale tax attorney Ira Zuckerman has provided legal representation for more than 30 years. He utilizes an aggressive and comprehensive approach to help place each client in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact Zuckerman Law, LLC in Fort Lauderdale for a free confidential consultation.

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