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Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers for ERC Fraud Charges

Have you recently received a ERC criminal target letter from the Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, or United States Attorney's Office? Or have you or a loved one been charged with Employee Retention Credit Fraud by a grand jury indictment? Attorney Kensley Barrett leads the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm's team of Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys, providing skilled and experienced federal criminal defense legal representation on ERC charges nationwide. Our Firm is already representing clients charged with similar ERC offenses and has the legal expertise to help you navigate extremely serious federal employee retention credit criminal charges. Speak with Attorney Kensley Barrett, who heads our team of federal criminal defense attorneys handling ERC charges 24/7 at 888-348-2735.

Federal criminal charges of Employee Retention Credit Fraud are currently being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice as violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286 (conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims). The penalties for violating this section include imprisonment for up to ten years and substantial fines, reflecting the severity of the offense and the amount of fraud involved. Additionally, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution to the government for the losses incurred due to the fraudulent claims. The IRS has recently halted new ERC claim processing due to a surge of questionable claims, and FinCEN has issued alerts highlighting the prevalence of ERC fraud. The exact penalties depend on the specifics of the case, such as the amount of money involved in the fraud and whether the individual has prior convictions.

ERC Fraud Lawyers

Given the severe penalties and complexities involved in cases of Employee Retention Credit Fraud, it is crucial to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The legal landscape surrounding federal charges is intricate, and having a seasoned attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. At Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm, our team of Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys is well-equipped to defend you against ERC charges, ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Don't face these serious federal charges alone—speak with a member of our federal criminal defense attorney team 24/7 at 888-348-2735.

Understanding the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was introduced as part of the CARES Act to help businesses retain employees during the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It offered substantial financial incentives to qualifying businesses, but with these benefits came a heightened risk of fraud allegations. Nationwide, businesses need to be aware of what constitutes ERC fraud, the key features of the program, eligibility criteria, and how to defend against potential fraud charges.

What Is ERC Fraud?

ERC fraud occurs when businesses intentionally misrepresent information to qualify for the credit. This can involve:

  • Falsifying Eligibility: Claiming the credit for periods when the business did not meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Inflating Wages: Overstating employee wages to increase the credit amount.
  • Duplicate Claims: Submitting claims for the same employees under multiple programs or entities.

Key Features of the ERC Program

Understanding the ERC program's features is crucial for compliance and defense against fraud allegations:

  • Eligibility Periods: The ERC was available for specific periods during 2020 and 2021. Businesses needed to demonstrate a significant decline in gross receipts or full or partial suspension of operations due to government orders.
  • Credit Amount: The credit amount varied, covering up to 50% of qualified wages paid in 2020 and up to 70% in 2021, with maximum caps per employee.
  • Interaction with Other Relief Programs: Businesses could not double-dip by claiming the same wages for both ERC and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness.

ERC Eligibility Criteria for Businesses

Businesses needed to meet specific criteria to qualify for the ERC:

  • Significant Revenue Decline: A decline of at least 50% in gross receipts in a 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019, or a decline of 20% in 2021.
  • Operational Impact: Full or partial suspension of operations due to governmental orders during the pandemic.
  • Qualified Wages: Wages paid to employees during eligible periods, including certain health care costs.

Fraud Concerns and Legal Implications

As the ERC program attracted scrutiny from the IRS and other federal agencies, fraudulent claims can lead to severe consequences, including:

  • Fines and Penalties: Significant financial penalties for improper claims.
  • Repayment of Credits: Requirement to repay any fraudulently obtained credits.
  • Criminal Charges: Potential for criminal charges leading to imprisonment.

Defending Against ERC Fraud Allegations

If you are an individual or business facing ERC fraud allegations, a robust defense strategy is essential. Here are key elements of a defense:

  1. Good Faith Compliance: Demonstrating that the business made a good faith effort to comply with the complex and evolving guidelines of the ERC program. This includes showing documentation and records that support their understanding and interpretation of the rules.

  2. Lack of Intent: Arguing that any discrepancies or errors in the ERC claim were unintentional and not done with fraudulent intent. Mistakes in navigating the intricate regulations should not automatically lead to criminal liability.

  3. Adequate Documentation: Providing thorough and accurate records to substantiate the eligibility and amounts claimed. Proper documentation can refute allegations of false claims or misrepresentations.

  4. Legal Interpretations: Arguing that the legal interpretations and guidance at the time were ambiguous or unclear, leading to unintentional errors. An attorney can demonstrate that the client's actions were reasonable given the information available at the time.

  5. Proportional Penalties: If errors are acknowledged, arguing for proportional penalties rather than severe criminal charges. Highlighting the client's otherwise good compliance history and cooperation during the investigation can mitigate the severity of penalties.

Why You Need an Experienced ERC Fraud Defense Lawyer

ERC fraud cases are complex, requiring a deep understanding of both tax law and criminal defense. An experienced lawyer can:

  • Analyze Your Case: Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the allegations against you.
  • Develop a Defense Strategy: Craft a tailored defense strategy based on the specifics of your case.
  • Negotiate with Authorities: Work with federal and state authorities to potentially reduce charges or penalties.
  • Represent You in Court: Provide robust representation should your case go to trial.

Facing Federal ERC fraud charges is an extremely serious matter that requires immediate and skilled legal intervention. By understanding the nature of the charges, potential consequences, and available defenses, individuals and businesses can take the necessary steps to protect their interests. Contact a qualified Federal ERC fraud defense lawyer to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm

If you are under investigation or facing charges brought by the United States Attorney, the Internal Revenue Service, or the Department of Justice related to ERC fraud anywhere in the nation, contact our law office today for a confidential consultation. The seasoned federal defense attorneys at the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm will meet with you to confidentially discuss the details of your case and explore any legal or constitutional defenses available.  Contact us today at 888-348-2735 for a no-obligation Federal ERC fraud defense strategy session.

Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.