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Australia’s Tax laws do not leave much to the imagination when drawing up the boundaries of what constitutes civil misconduct. Tax fraud, tax evasion, obtaining financial advantage, and conspiracy to defraud are some of the most recurring types of taxation offences defined explicitly by the Commonwealth Legislation. All the misdemeanours aforementioned are crimes that make up a breach of the boundaries set by the Australia’s Criminal Code Act from 1995, leaving it subject to legal investigation and prosecution if found guilty.

It goes without saying that tax crimes are serious crimes of a pernicious nature. Pernicious because, considering the amount of money the government gets in taxes, it is tempting to attempt fraud with the rationale that it would go unnoticed. Because of this, it is important to be aware of the legal ramifications of tax evasion and fraud and the specific laws that stipulate these ramifications.

Apart from having an understanding of these, your awareness of these laws would help you in your endeavours to employ tax professionals who are going to help you to organise your finances. It would also aid in legal defence should you be found on the wrong side of the law.

Tax Offences

The way tax laws are set up (clear-cut, and devoid of fluff that might confound citizens), it is unlikely that any breaches of tax conduct would be a mistake. In the event that that happens however, the next thing to do is to hire criminal lawyers in Brisbane to defend your innocence.

It does not require a large stretch of imagination to see people who do their taxes themselves inadvertently making errors. This makes slip-ups like this easy to rectify. On the other side of the spectrum, intentional misdemeanours are prosecuted with the full indignation of the law.

Tax crimes in Australia are clearly defined by the following sections of the Act in the Constitution:

  • Section 134.1(1)
  • Section 134.2(1)
  • Section 135.2(1)
  • Section 135.4(3)
  • Section 135.4(4)

Section 134.1(1): Obtaining property by deception

Charges under this section carry a maximum punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment. Offences under this section are characterised by the procurement of property through dishonesty from a Commonwealth entity; all conditions under this definition must be met.

To fully enforce this, the definition of property must be fully realised. In this context, it is defined as the total amount to be paid as tax, but can be stretched to include other financial assets. Basically, tax evasion or fraud done by giving out wrong information can be considered as “obtaining property by deception”.

Having considered all these, the prosecution or Commonwealth must prove that the fraud was done with the aim to intentionally deceive, and that the deception actually ended in a tax crime that left the Commonwealth entity devoid of owned property. If any of the above parameters cannot be proved, then the prosecution is rendered null, leaving the person innocent of the charge.

Section 134.2(1): Obtaining financial advantage by deception

Charges under this section are levelled against people who have “obtained financial advantage” from a commonwealth entity in fraudulent ways involving deceit.

Of this charge, the onus is on the prosecution to try and prove two things. First, that the person committed the misdemeanour deliberately; secondly, that the misdemeanour resulted in the procurement of a financial advance for the defaulter at the expense of a Commonwealth entity.

Again, failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that intentional misdemeanour ended up as financial advantages gained at the expense of the Commonwealth, absolves the accused of any crimes. The maximum penalty for being found guilty of the charge under this section is ten years imprisonment.

Section 135.2(1): Obtaining financial advantage

This section is fundamentally similar to the previous one, only less grave. This charge is levelled against people who are under suspicion of having “obtained financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity”.

Again, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and it must be proved without a doubt that the accused was aware of their ineligibility to own, accept, or be in possession of the financial advantage in question. It must also be demonstrated that the accused had been involved in measures to obtain these financial advantages from a Commonwealth entity.

If the prosecution defaults on proving any one of these, the accused is judged innocent and the charges are dropped. Should the prosecution prove both, the accused is found guilty and is liable to be sentenced to a maximum of twelve months in prison.

This presents a defence strategy of sorts for people who have been charged under section 134.2(1). If the prosecution seems to have built a sturdy enough case for charges under 134.2(1), the defence party would try to get the charge displaced by the 135.2(1). Of course, this means that the penalty for guilt of the accused is lessened from ten years to twelve months.

Section 135.4(3): Conspiracy to defraud

Under this section lies the jurisdiction to charge citizens for conspiracy to defraud. What this means is that when it is alleged that a certain number of parties are in cahoots, with the aim of deceitfully obtaining advantages at the expense of a Commonwealth entity, this charge is levelled.

Unlike the precedents, the prosecution is free from the burden of proof, and does not have to prove ill intent on the part of the accused parties. The parties alleged to be in conspiracy share the liability in this case. Under this section, guilt is punished by a maximum of imprisonment for ten years.

Conclusion

Tax litigation is undesirable to any right-thinking person, and wisdom is profitable to direct when handling taxes. Golden bits of advice that never wear out in utility include upholding a culture of transparency to the authorities, keeping bank transactions and records analysed by professionals, and filing one’s taxes on time and truthfully.

If you are facing any tax fraud charge or you wish to consult criminal lawyers Gold Coast or Brisbane about tax fraud, contact Howden Saggers Lawyers today!