We know you saw it all over social media this week – “Todd Chrisley indicted for tax evasion as reality star says he’s been framed”, “Todd Chrisley Indicted for Tax Evasion but Claims Innocence”, “Todd Chrisley and Julie Chrisley Indicted for Tax Evasion and Other Financial Crimes”, “Todd Chrisley’s son Chase hit with $17G tax lien amid parents’ tax evasion indictment”, “’Chrisley Knows Best’ stars indicted on federal tax evasion charges.”
But in case you didn’t here is the summary published in a News Release by the Department of Justice: US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia:
“A federal grand jury has indicted Todd and Julie Chrisley, the stars of the reality television show Chrisley Knows Best, on multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. The Chrisleys’ accountant, Peter Tarantino, has also been indicted on tax-related offenses.”
Todd Chrisley publicly responded via Instagram, sharing that, “"I’ve never talked about this publicly before, but there’s been a cloud hanging over Julie and me and our entire family for the past seven years. It all started back in 2012, when we discovered that a trusted employee of ours had been stealing from us big time… [who did] all kinds of really bad stuff like creating phony documents, forging our signatures, and threatening other employees with violence if they said anything... We even discovered that he illegally bugged our home."
And, so it goes – celebrity tax scandals are not new! Lest we remind you of Wesley Snipes, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Willie Nelson... Martha Stewart... and the list goes on.
But, what really caught our attention in the Chrisley scandal is what the IRS had to say in this case. The gist – the IRS is not playing! And, they’re not just hunting for celebrities!
Just look at what Mr. Thomas J. Holloman, III, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the IRS (the office that is handling the Chrisley matter), said to the media:
“The tax charges in this indictment serves notice that the Internal Revenue Service has zero tolerance for individuals who attempt to shirk their tax responsibilities. This action is also part of a much larger and coordinated effort by the IRS and Department of Justice to aggressively find and crack down on individuals who try to conspire with others to hide their income and then lie to federal agents when confronted. Honest and law abiding taxpayers are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets at their expense.”
Zero tolerance! Larger coordinated effort to find individuals! These are serious words designed to put taxpayers who are not compliant on notice.
Each year the IRS releases it statistics relating to criminal investigations via its website. Recent statistics reveal that 79% of IRS investigations result in convictions. And, that 97% of all indictments lead to convictions!
As you can see from these stats and Holloman’s comments, when Taxpayers become the target of an IRS criminal investigation – the IRS is NOT messing around! The IRS spends a great deal of time and money investigating, auditing, and building its case - often times even before the Taxpayers find out they are a target of a criminal investigation. In our experience, the IRS uses a multi-layered system to develop its case against what it deems to be suspicious Taxpayers.
It usually begins on the civil side with an audit or through collection enforcement efforts by local Revenue Officers. The Auditor or Revenue Officer picks up what is deemed “suspicious,” and makes a referral to the criminal division of the IRS – aka “CIS”. CIS then starts probing around to determine whether a full-blown investigation is warranted based on the facts and information at hand. If there is enough evidence to support it, a more thorough criminal investigation begins. Depending on the findings of the criminal investigation, the criminal division of the IRS can then recommend prosecution to the Justice Department. The Justice Department then decides whether to prosecute the Taxpayer. Once a referral is made and prosecution begins the train is hard to stop – to the tune of a 97% conviction rate!
So, what’s our point? If you have unfiled returns or if you owe the IRS or it you are under audit... or any combination of these... get professional help. Your liberty may be at stake! We know that most folks are not trying to shirk their responsibilities, but the IRS doesn’t think this way and it’s actively trying to identify anyone who might be out of line.
We know you’ve heard it from us over and over again – but, we’ll say it again: IRS problems are legal problems! Get a trained legal professional to help you! Hire an experienced tax lawyer to protect you!