In today's 24/7 online world, it can be hard not to discuss major events happening in our lives on social media, by text, or via email with friends and family. But if you're involved in a complex IRS case, particularly if you are the subject of a criminal investigation, there are some important guidelines you should follow:
1. Don't Delete Your Accounts
It may seem counterintuitive, but there's no harm in leaving your social media accounts out there. If the IRS is using them to investigate you or your business, they've already done so. Deleting your accounts now might signal to federal agents that you're trying to hide evidence. Just leave everything there and give your attorney access so they can see what investigators have probably already seen.
2. Don't Delete Posts
Similarly, if you have social media posts online that you think might be incriminating or inappropriate, it's too late. You can be sure that federal investigators have probably already seen it, even if it's something you deleted long ago. Never assume that something you've deleted from the internet is gone forever. But be sure to let your attorney know if there's anything you think might be questionable.
3. Don't Interact with Unfamiliar People
Don't accept social media friend requests from people you don't know and don't comment or interact with people you don't know on public or private accounts. You never know who is trying to gain access to your private account and private comments.
4. Don't Post About Your Case
Telling you not to post about your tax case may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating – don't discuss your case, don't comment, and don't answer questions online at all. “Online” doesn't just mean social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. The rules also apply to other online forums like text messages, emails, and private message boards with family and friends. Just assume that federal agents can see anything you say online.
5. Don't Friend or Follow People Involved in Your Case
It may seem obvious, but you should never attempt to friend or follow people involved in your case on social media, including investigators, possible witnesses, jurors, and more. You may assume no one will notice you are clandestinely following a juror using an assumed name, but someone will notice. Don't do it.
Finally, let your attorney know if you see any activity online that might affect your case. For example, if your company is under investigation for tax fraud and one of your co-workers posts a photo of the two of you at the lake in your “company vehicle,” that might be a problem. Let your attorney know.
If you're involved in a complex tax case or facing an investigation, it's time to seek help from professionals. The attorneys at Gabaie & Associates, LLC have experience assisting clients with complex tax problems, tax litigation, and IRS investigations. Contact our office for a free consultation or call us at 410-358-1300.