There's a truism in the law that it's not the crime but the cover-up that becomes so many criminals' undoing. And the eventual consequences of the cover-up can be worse than the original crime. That's something to keep in mind if someone is worried about an audit or other tax issue and is tempted to hide their wrongdoing. And when it comes to tax liability, there's a law that addresses that very issue.
Section 7212 of the Internal Revenue Code makes it clear. It's a crime to attempt to interfere with or impede any federal government officer's acting in their official capacity to enforce the Internal Revenue Code. And what constitutes impermissible interference is intentionally broad. It includes physical force, threats of force (in any mode, from the spoken word to any written communication), and corruption of government officials.
Charges of corruption aren't limited to bribing an official. The charge only requires that the defendant take any action that would result in them receiving an illegal benefit. For example, a court upheld a defendant's violation of 7212 for filing a false complaint against an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent.
As broad as that may seem, the “omnibus clause” even goes further. It makes it a crime to take any action to obstruct or impede an IRS investigation or audit.
Furthermore, the requirement is only if a defendant attempted to interfere with the government's enforcement. There's no requirement that they were successful in doing so. That is why a court has upheld a conviction after a defendant filed false 1099 and 1096 forms—even though the IRS was not investigating the defendant at the time.
If someone is convicted of a 7212 charge for making threats of force, they can be fined up to $3,000 and face a prison term of one year. If convicted of corruption or use of force under the statute, they can be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for three years.
If you are worried about the outcome of an audit or investigation, hire an attorney specializing in tax law as soon as possible. If you need help, call Senior Partner, Tax Controversy Attorney, and former IRS attorney Brandon A. Keim at (602) 200-7399 or contact him online to discuss your options.
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