Tax evasion is a severely illegal act that the Australian Taxation Office and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) take very seriously. Hence why the penalty for tax evasion can be very harsh, depending on the severity of the crime. The ATO created a Serious Financial Crime Taskforce in order to successfully put a stop to and expose any tax evasion and tax-related crimes.
What is tax evasion?
Tax evasion occurs when individuals exploit the Australian tax system for their own financial benefit. One will simply intentionally evade paying their tax to the Australian Taxation Office by stipulating misleading and deceptive information. Common tax evasion crimes can include inadequately reporting your income, making invalid claims or hiding assets in offshore accounts. Such crimes are carried out to acquire added tax benefits and refunds that one may not be granted to collect. The Australian Tax Office also recognises that tax fraud is frequently connected with other forged crimes such as money laundering and identity theft.
Due to the extensive range of tax crimes, penalties can vary accordingly. Penalties for tax evasion are usually taken more seriously than tax-related summary offences. In saying so, tax evasion crimes generally incur more consequential terms of imprisonment.
Within Australia, there are no particular offences that identify with tax evasion crimes. More broad crimes are utilised to penalise tax evasion charges. In accordance with the conspiracy to defraud and obtain a financial advantage by deception, a person has committed a tax evasion offence if:
They have obtained a gain
An individual schemes with another individual with the objective of deceitfully acquiring a gain from a third individual.
They have caused a loss
A person collaborates with a second person to deceitfully cause a loss or dishonestly cause a risk of loss to a third individual.
They have Influenced a public official
An individual plots with another individual with the objective of deceitfully persuading a public official of their official duties.
All tax crimes relating to obtaining a financial advantage by deception and a conspiracy to defraud will receive a maximum imprisonment penalty of 10 years.
However, there are other tax-related offences that are less severe in nature, including failing to keep records or lodge returns, creating false or misleading statements, as well as not acknowledging and answering questions left by the Australian Taxation Office. If you have committed your first offence in failing to comply with requirements under Taxation Law, you will receive a fine of $2,200.
Similar to most other offences, maximum penalties are usually set aside for significant crimes. For that reason, the Court has the capability of charging different penalties under suitable circumstances. To dictate if a particular punishment is appropriate, the Court will ponder on numerous factors. Such factors include the accused’s prior criminal history, individual circumstances, and the conditions encompassing the offence. If the Court decides to implement alternate penalties, various punishments can comprise of fines, reduced sentences, community service orders or intensive correction orders. Home detention is another popular alternate punishment where a person is subject to electronic monitoring and strict supervision.
If you agree with the tax offence charges placed against you, you have the capacity to plead guilty in Court. Even though pleading guilty can lead to sentencing, the end result can be much more favourable than simply being found guilty otherwise. The Court may be more willing to impose an alternate punishment or even decrease your maximum sentence since a guilty plea shows remorse for your actions.
On the other hand, if you do not agree with the allegations placed against you, you have the ability to plead not guilty. The Court will enter into a trial where the prosecution will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you did commit a tax evasion offence. If the trial is successful, you will be faced with fines and/or imprisonment, depending on the nature of your tax evasion offence.
Have you been charged with Tax Fraud or a Tax Evasion Crime?
Whether you have been charged with a minor offence or a more severe tax fraud or tax evasion offence, it is crucial to pursue legal services from criminal tax fraud and tax evasion lawyers. Criminal lawyers are able to explain to you in more detail the various penalties relating to your tax fraud charges in NSW and will be able to advise you on the best legal course for your specific case.
Being charged with tax fraud can place a large amount of pressure on both yourself and your family. Seeking professional help can also aid in providing sympathetic and unbiased support during your case.