Skip to Main Content

How Failing to File Your Employment Taxes Can Land You in Jail

White collar crimes cover a variety of offenses in Texas. For instance, one of the more common types of white-collar charge involve tax crimes in one form or another. Most of us pay our taxes on-time and without incident. But some of us neglect to file all required returns or pay the tax owed in full. And in some cases, individuals try to get out of a tax problem by filing a false or misleading return.

Houston Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Jail, Ordered to Pay IRS $20 Million

This can lead to serious legal consequences, as one Houston-area man recently learned. The defendant in this case, United States v. Van Pelt, received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence after pleading guilty to failing to pay required taxes on behalf of his business. While the prison sentence may not seem that extreme, the sentence also included a restitution order of more than $20 million.

According to a criminal information–which is similar to an indictment–filed last August by the United State Attorney’s Office in Houston, the defendant owned and operated a local staffing business. As you probably know, employers are generally required to withhold federal income taxes and FICA contributions from their employees’ wages and “remit” those amounts to the Internal Revenue Service. The Information stated the defendant collected over $1 million in employee taxes and FICA contributions, but he failed to turn that money over to the federal government. The defendant also failed to file accurate quarterly tax returns reflecting these amounts that he collected.

And that was apparently just the tip of the iceberg. In reaching a plea agreement with the government, the defendant admitted that he failed to remit “over $20 million” in employee taxes over a period of 18 quarters–or nearly 5 years. Altogether, the sentencing judge ordered the defendant to pay $20,398,629.05 back to the government.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the judge took a number of factors into account when deciding to sentence the defendant to 30 months in jail, including the “size of the tax loss” and the fact the defendant “knew he had a degenerative disease prior to commission of his crime.” The U.S. Attorney also noted the defendant “admitted he spent the money owed on the unpaid employment taxes on various luxury items.” After completing his prison term, the defendant will also be subject to three years of “supervised release.”

Speak with a Houston White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are having trouble paying your taxes, there are legal options to help you deal with the situation. Never assume that the IRS will simply ignore you because you are “too small” or that the government only audits big businesses. Anyone can be the target of a tax investigation, and if the IRS suspects you are misleading them in any way, you may be facing criminal charges.

An experienced Galveston or League City criminal defense lawyer can help. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates if you need advice or assistance in dealing a tax crime or related matter today. Call (281) 280-0100