With the deadline for filing income tax returns rapidly approaching, R. Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, and Matthew D. Line, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS-CI), recently announced tax fraud prosecutions and sentencings, and warn those who are thinking about breaking the law by committing tax crimes.

According to the statement, Murray said tax cheats steal from the government and increase the burden on honest taxpayers.

Acting Special Agent Line said the IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to work diligently to pursue those individuals and corporations who make deliberate decisions to not comply with the tax laws.

Federal penalties for each count of conviction of tax crimes range from a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for failure to file a tax return, false withholding exemptions, and delivering or disclosing false tax documents, to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to defraud with respect to false refund claims.

Other penalties include a mandatory term of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine for aggravated identity theft charges, three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for obstructing or impeding an investigation and filing or preparing a false tax return, and a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for tax evasion, failure to pay taxes, conspiracy to commit a tax offense or conspiracy to defraud.

Also, tax payers are urged to exercise caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of tax schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution.

To learn more and for help with recognizing and avoiding abusive tax schemes, visit www.irs.gov.