Because the filing deadline has been extended to July 15 this year, tax season is much longer than usual. Tax preparers throughout Michigan are busy serving their customers with their state and federal income tax filings. In this competitive industry, your reputation and word of mouth go a long way to keeping your tax prep business afloat.

On the other hand, being charged with a federal crime could destroy your career. More importantly, you could be threatened with a long prison sentence, heavy fines, or both.

Tax preparer charged with wire fraud

For example, a professional tax preparer in central Michigan has been charged with several counts of wire fraud, after the IRS accused him of defrauding numerous customers and embezzling part of their tax refunds. According to investigators, the tax preparer allegedly showed his clients unfiled tax returns that showed smaller refunds than they actually were receiving. Then, according to the charges, the suspect would file the real returns, receive the clients’ full refunds, and pocket the difference. Authorities claim he embezzled more than $400,000.

Wire fraud typically is a federal crime when it involves the use of telecommunications over state lines. It appears that the fact the defendant used the internet to file tax returns to the IRS is why he is being charged at the federal level, instead of under Michigan law. The fact that he was charged in federal court means he will face more stringent punishments if he is convicted or pleads guilty. He faces 20 years in prison.

What to do about federal charges

When charged with a federal crime, you need to take immediate action to preserve your rights and avoid being overwhelmed by the power of federal prosecutors. When choosing a criminal defense attorney, make sure you select one with extensive experience with federal law and representing clients at trial.