It’s long been said that there are only two things in life that are sure: death and taxes.
You may not like either of these things, but this statement is unarguably true… at least for good, law-abiding Americans. Between 80 and 90 percent of Americans claim that they believe it’s never okay to cheat on taxes, but we can’t speak for the others.
The remaining 10 to 20 percent of Americans speak for themselves. Most recently, two Las Vegas men have spoken by creating and performing a tax fraud scheme that resulted in two million dollars of fraudulent refunds being given to them by the IRS.
If you’re just an average person who owes the IRS tax money, you’ve got nothing on these people. Men like these Las Vegas natives intentionally take money from the government in a way that’s akin to theft, while you’re likely just struggling to come up with payout.
No matter what your situation is, read on to learn about the tax fraud- and subsequent conviction- of these thieves.
Part One: The Scam
The story begins with two family members from Las Vegas, Nevada. Their names: Chanh and Cannedy Trinh. These two individuals thought that they could get a little- or a lot- of extra cash by filing incorrect information on their tax return forms… six million dollars, to be precise.
They didn’t get six million dollars, but they did get two million in fraudulent payouts from the IRS. They did this by filing both corporate tax returns in the names of fake companies and individual tax returns using fake and stolen identities.
Once the returns were filed, all the Trinhs had to do was wait to collect. And collect they did, before depositing the money into bank accounts and cashing it. They also put some of the funds into cash-checking businesses and casinos, which helped them hide the money since they could invest in chips.
This is tremendously interesting because it doesn’t happen very often. Most fraudulent return checks aren’t people intentionally stealing money, though that isn’t a rare occurrence. More often than not, people just make mistakes on taxes and have no idea how to fix them once they’re already filed.
Still, there are people out there like the Trinhs, who purposely commit tax fraud and cheat the government- and honest taxpayers- out of a lot of money. These people, of course, must be brought to justice.
Fortunately, the Trinhs were.
Part Two: The Trial
The indictment came forward saying that three people in the Trinh family had stolen this money. Basically, an indictment just alleges that something has happened. Even though the courts thought that these people might have committed tax fraud, they were still innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The court accomplished that later.
Along with another relative and co-conspirator, Elizabeth Trinh, Chanh and Cannedy pled guilty to trying to steal this ridiculous sum of money by committing tax fraud. All of these people reportedly took a plea agreement, meaning less jail time will come their way because they were honest and pled guilty.
If the plea bargain is accepted by the court, Chanh was told he would be sentenced to 102 weeks in prison. Cannedy would make out even better, needing to spend only 24 months behind bars. As for Elizabeth, she would be looking at a maximum ten-year sentence, but it will likely be shorter.
Of course, pleading guilty helped the trial and subsequent conviction go a lot more smoothly. For this reason, the trial could conclude quickly and with no mess. The Trinhs would go on, anxiously awaiting the sentencing that took place a few months after their conviction.
Court cases like the Trinhs aren’t rare, even if they’re an extreme example of an ongoing issue. Many Americans commit tax fraud each year. You probably can sleep easily at night knowing you aren’t facing a trial like this, but it’s a good idea to make sure you haven’t messed up accidentally.
It can be easy to fall behind in… well, most things relating to money, and since you’re a good citizen, you don’t want to fall behind. After all, negligence can cause you a lot of issues as well. But don’t worry; just stay up to date on your taxes, and everything will be okay.
Part Three: The Sentencing
On April 10th, 2019, five months after the Trinh’s December 11th trial and sentencing, they made their way back into the courtroom to hear their sentences. Although they had taken the plea bargains, they didn’t know yet whether or not the court accepted them.
This would have been a nerve-wracking experience for the Trinh family. No one likes looking at jail time, but since criminal charges for tax fraud can be so steep, this trial was almost certainly a trying time.
Luckily for them, the plea bargains were accepted. Chanh will be spending the next eight and a half years behind bars, and Cannedy will be spending the next two there. This is a lot of time, but it’s mild compared to what their sentences could have looked like if the plea wasn’t accepted.
Elizabeth got the lightest sentence of all. She was sentenced on May 15th and will only serve 18 months in prison. This was under the conviction of conspiracy to defraud the US government.
In addition to jail time, the Trinh men are going to be on a short leash upon their release. They will have to undergo three years of mandatory supervision following their sentence. During this time, the government will watch their finances, including their spending, bills, savings, and, of course, their taxes.
Elizabeth must also have three years of supervised release. She must pay a fine of $362,328 to the IRS, but that’s nothing compared to what her co-conspirators must pay in restitution.
Of course, the two million dollars in fraudulent funds also had to be returned, but they’re also going to have to pay even more than that. Chanh and Cannedy will, together, also have to pay a total of 3.5 million dollars in fines.
Part Four: The Aftermath
This may have just been one case of tax fraud, but it doesn’t stand alone. There are many cases of tax evasion or incorrect filings committed each tax season. Even some of your favorite celebrities may have, at one point or another, dodged their duty!
First, it’s important to understand that the penalties for filing fraudulent returns aren’t worth the risk of a little extra cash. If the story of the Trinhs didn’t scare you out of any desire you might have had to dodge your taxes (or worse), the average jail time of 3 to 5 years for evasion alone should.
Fraudulent filing gets you even worse prison sentences, so that’s a definite no-no.
People who mistakenly don’t file tax returns, though, or file them incorrectly, also stand open to this prison penalty. They also stand open to getting a 100,000 dollar fine and being slapped with a felony on their records forever.
A lot of people who get these penalties aren’t bad people. They just don’t understand how the taxation system works or forgot to file their taxes. Luckily, this mistake can be rectified if you contact the IRS. Make sure you’re all up to date on your taxes- you can never be too sure!
Some people don’t even know if they need to file a tax return. If you’re not sure, we don’t blame you. After all, it’s a complicated process, and though it can be completed more easily with modern computer software, it still is a huge headache.
It’s a good idea to check up on whether or not you need to file a tax return. Even if you don’t think you need to, there’s no such thing as being too safe. Plus, imagine how good it will feel to confirm that suspicion!
Stand Up Against Tax Fraud
If this trial has made anything clear, it’s that tax fraud can land you in a heap of trouble. Even if you’re not intentionally committing a tax-related crime, it’s still possible to get in trouble for neglecting to file correctly, so be vigilant and you’ll be great!
Still, if for whatever reason you think you might need a tax lawyer, go and schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable professional. These people can help you to make sure you don’t face painful legal consequences. Even if your worries are just that- worries- talking to someone who’s skilled in tax law can do a lot to put your mind to rest.