An Unprecedented and Challenging Environment
In the past few years, a “perfect storm” has gathered to fuel the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) increasingly aggressive pursuit of criminal tax issues. Most recently, this has been driven by the current economic downturn and an ever-intensifying public spotlight on offshore tax havens and tax-minimization devices. There has been a marked rise in U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) funding to prosecute financial crimes (and tax-related crimes in particular), mounting Congressional scrutiny of cases arising out of financial fraud, and an enhanced appetite on the part of the public and law enforcement for bringing high-profile criminal prosecutions. At the same time, new tax whistleblower provisions are gaining substantial traction, while report after report shows that the tax gap between what is owed and what is collected to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars and rising. The result is a challenging and risky environment for clients alleged to have run afoul of the myriad and confusing provisions that make up the Internal Revenue laws.
Optimal Blend of Criminal Defense and Tax Experience
Miller & Chevalier’s Criminal Tax group possesses the two crucial requirements for the effective defense of criminal tax matters; that is, deep technical capabilities across a broad spectrum of complex tax issues and a cutting-edge white collar defense practice with extraordinary jury trial experience.
Because criminal tax matters involve highly complex financial issues, clients benefit from the fact that our team includes Certified Public Accountants, as well as lawyers with in-depth substantive tax knowledge in areas such as financial products, partnerships, corporations, cross-border transactions, tax-exempt organizations, and gift, excise, and payroll taxes. The result of this unique combination of talent and experience is a practice that brings strategic, forward-looking, and creative problem solving to cases presenting challenging tax and criminal law issues.
Miller & Chevalier is widely recognized as a leader in tax matters, with one of the nation’s most impressive records for successfully resolving complex tax issues for clients around the globe. We have achieved extraordinary outcomes for clients in every phase of the IRS administrative process and have litigated hundreds of tax cases in the United States Tax Court, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the Federal District Courts, the Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. These have included several of the largest tax cases of record. Our lawyers include former government officials who served at the highest levels of the IRS.
This deep and diverse tax experience is coupled with proven White Collar criminal defense capabilities. Our White Collar lawyers have collectively tried more than 300 criminal cases in state and federal jurisdictions around the country. We have obtained high profile acquittals and favorable results in criminal tax cases and other complex financial fraud prosecutions. We have vast experience in the array of issues that confront clients under investigation for, or charged with, tax crimes, from allegations involving the use of improper tax minimization strategies, to false or fraudulent tax reporting, to the alleged illegal use of offshore banking (including Bank Secrecy Act issues). We have successfully advised and represented corporations and individuals at every stage of criminal litigation, from voluntary disclosure through investigations, indictment, trial, and appeals. We possess unparalleled experience representing clients that face the complexities arising from simultaneous criminal and civil audits, investigations, or litigation by government agencies or by Congressional committees.
Our goal is to resolve issues without litigation, at the earliest opportunity, and under the most favorable conditions for our clients, and we have a track record of helping clients avoid costly and sensitive litigation through the IRS voluntary disclosure program or through negotiations with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the DOJ. When circumstances require litigation, however, we are forceful advocates with real trial experience who defend clients’ interests vigorously, persuasively, and successfully.
A taxpayer’s use of the IRS’s voluntary disclosure program can minimize (and often eliminate) the risk of an IRS referral of the matter to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. In many situations, participation in the voluntary disclosure program may be a client’s best course of action, particularly when dealing with offshore foreign bank accounts. Our Criminal Tax lawyers are experienced in helping clients evaluate voluntary disclosure as a strategy, implementing it, and successfully handling sensitive negotiations with the IRS, including computations of any civil penalties that the IRS may be considering under the current program.
Both the IRS and Congress recently have intensified their scrutiny of the operations of tax-exempt organizations. In particular, Congress has expressed keen interest in insider misconduct and misuse of tax-exempt assets for private benefit. A criminal investigation can quickly put an organization’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy, and a civil IRS audit can lead to a referral of a tax-exempt organization or one or more of its officers, directors, or employees to the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Few, if any, other firms can match Miller & Chevalier’s unique depth of experience in both criminal defense matters and the tax issues specific to nonprofit organizations. Our lawyers boast a long and successful history of helping tax-exempt organizations and their employees defend against allegations of criminal liability. Our tax-exempt clients include the full spectrum of such organizations, from public charities (including educational institutions, churches and religious organizations, hospitals and medical facilities) to private foundations, charitable trusts, social welfare organizations, and domestic and international trade associations.