There’s a big difference between facing the IRS as a business owner and facing the IRS as an individual taxpayer. In the former case (if your offense is failing to forward your payroll taxes), you will be treated as the fiduciary for your dozens or hundreds of employees—not a person, but a corporate entity. In the latter case, the government has no choice but to treat you as an individual because your offense applies to your taxes and your taxes alone, not those of other individuals in your employ.

That’s why, if the IRS is claiming you illegally used your withheld payroll taxes for your own purposes (or failed to deduct these taxes in the first place), you need an experienced lawyer at your side. Failing to forward payroll taxes is an extremely serious offense, and one that involves not just you, but all of your employees. In fact, in the minds of most IRS revenue officers, business owners who repeatedly run afoul of their payroll responsibilities are no better than bank robbers, since they are availing themselves of funds that technically belong to the U.S. government.

Can a lawyer get you off the hook for your payroll offense? That will depend, to a large extent, on whether this was a one-time oversight (say, your business was suffering and you desperately needed the money to stay afloat), or you continued to flout the payroll laws quarter after quarter, year after year. In the latter case, not only will you need to retain a tax attorney, but you may require a criminal lawyer as well!

Questions? Call the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis. W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) to find out what we can do for you.

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