The main tax fraud offences in Australia are contained in sections 134 and 135 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, the maximum penalties for which range from 12 months to 10 years imprisonment.
If you have been charged with tax fraud, or are suspected of this type of conduct, it is important to secure the services of criminal lawyers with specialist experience in tax-related cases.
Each of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law when it comes to tax issues, so you can rest assured you are in good hands with Australia’s most awarded criminal defence firm.
Read on for more information about tax fraud.
What is tax fraud?
Tax fraud – also known as tax evasion – is a general term used to describe the intentional or reckless failure to comply with tax laws.
What are the main tax fraud offences?
The main offences for prosecuting tax fraud, also known as tax evasion, are contained in sections 134.1(1), 134.2(1) and 135.4(3) of the Criminal Code Act (the Act), all of which carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.
Section 134.1(1) is headed ‘Obtaining property by deception’ and stipulates that a person is guilty of this offence if:
- the person, by a deception, dishonestly obtained property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property, and
- the property belonged to a Commonwealth entity.
To establish the offence, the prosecution is therefore required to prove each of the following ‘elements’ beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant acted dishonestly, and
- Engaged in a deceptive act, which
- Resulted him or her obtaining property, such as funds or assets,
- That property belonged to a Commonwealth entity, and
- The defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
The defendant is not guilty if the prosecution is unable to prove all of those elements.
Section 134.2(1) of the Act is titled ‘Obtaining financial advantage by deception’ and provides that a person is guilty of this offence if:
- the person, by a deception, dishonestly obtained a financial advantage from another person, and
- the other person was a Commonwealth entity.
Section 135.4(3) is headed ‘Conspiracy to defraud’ and states that a person is guilty of this offence if:
- the person conspired with another person with the intention of dishonestly causing a loss to a third person, and
- the third person was a Commonwealth entity.
Subsection 135.4(4) makes clear that to be convicted of the offence, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew the third person was a Commonwealth entity.
An alternative to the above offences is contained in section 135.2(1) of the Act, which is titled ‘Obtaining financial advantage’ and carries a much lower maximum penalty – 12 months rather than 10 years in.
A person is guilty of obtaining a financial advantage if the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- the person engaged in conduct as a result of which he or she obtained a financial advantage for himself or herself from another person,
- the person knew or believed he or she was not eligible to receive that financial advantage, and
- the other person was a Commonwealth entity.
Where the prosecution case for tax fraud appears to be strong, a defence lawyer may be able to have an offence which attracts a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison withdrawn and replaced by this less-serious offence.
What are the penalties for tax fraud?
Depending on the severity of the offence, and the amount involved, the range of penalties – if you are found guilty of tax fraud – include:
- Discharge Without Conviction
- Good behaviour bonds
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Orders
If you are under investigation for tax fraud, or you have been accused of tax evasion, it is important to take the charges seriously, and to seek legal advice from experienced tax lawyers.
Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional ResultsSydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client SatisfactionWe have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law FirmWe have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
- Fixed FeesWe want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
- Free First AppointmentFor those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
- Specialist Lawyer GuaranteeWe guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
- All NSW CourtsFrom Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law FirmOur team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind YouOur clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and JudgesEach of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
- ConvenienceWe have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.