Soccer Star Faces Tax Evasion Charges
Lionel Messi, the Barcelona and Argentina soccer player, was charged recently with tax fraud when it was discovered that a fictitious corporate structure had been created to avoid the necessity of paying income tax on the rights to his image. Although it hasn’t been determined whether Messi knew about or consented to the inception of the corporate structure, the Spanish court has refused to drop charges against the star, ABC News reports, proving that even celebrities aren’t exempt from being prosecuted for tax fraud.
In the United States, tax evasion represents the use of any illegal means to avoid having to pay taxes. This can include misrepresenting your income through underreporting income, using offshore accounts to conceal money or over-reporting deductions to the Internal Revenue Service.
Tax evasion can be hard to prove, however, and tax fraud is sometimes charged erroneously. For the government to convict you for tax evasion, the following elements have to be present:
- Sufficient evidence has to be present. It has to be definitively proved that you didn’t pay your taxes, and that you deliberately avoided doing so. If the IRS mistakenly calculated your taxes, or you can prove that you simply forgot to pay them, there might not be enough evidence for a conviction.
- The case has to be within the time limit. Typically, the IRS cannot file a tax evasion charge after six years have passed, even if sufficient evidence is present.
- Clear intention has to be proved. Occasionally, the government sets up a trap to compel people who otherwise wouldn’t to commit tax evasion. This is rare, but when it occurs, if you can prove you were entrapped, you cannot be convicted.
It’s common for tax fraud to be charged for simple mistakes in calculation, whether it is due to a mistake you or the IRS made. However, in all cases of tax fraud charges, an attorney is needed to handle your defense carefully. For more information and guidance, consult a knowledgeable Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A.