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Tina, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
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Hello - I have been working as a contractor providing bookkeeping

Resolved Question:

Hello - I have been working as a contractor providing bookkeeping services for almost 5 years to a business in San Francisco. I've been asked to move money around at the end of the year and to lie on city tax returns to hide revenue and avoid taxes. There is also a large number of "travel" expenses that the owner expenses to the business, but really he's providing vacation time for his family. I've complied with his requests in the past, thinking that it's his business, and ultimately he's responsible for any wrongdoing. But I've been researching this, and it turns out that I may be liable. My question is this: What are my liabilities? Could I be charged with a crime and/or be hit with a fine for agreeing to this behavior? If I were to go to the tax agencies that he's defrauded, would I have whistleblower status? What would my liabilities be, and is there any way to indemnify myself in the case of an audit? Thank you very much.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome,

Although the tax preparer may be held liable for misrepresentations made on a tax return, unless the preparer is defrauding the client in some manner, criminal charges are not normally brought against the preparer of the returns.

Here is a link that provides examples of criminal convictions of tax preparers:,,id=177063,00.html

However, since it does appear you knew that some returns provided false information, it would be best first to retain a local attorney to represent you before reporting the issues to the authorities. You would normally gain whistle blower status, so your job should be protected from retaliation if you report the employer, but it is best to have a local attorney advising you prior to reporting the employer so you do not incriminate yourself in some manner and avoid the possibility of criminal charges being filed, although it is normally unlikely that they would be unless you are benefiting in some manner from the deceit.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Tina -

I tried to ask for a little more info earlier, but I cannot find where that was recorded; so i am attempting again. Before I accept your answer, i would like to clarify - I am not an employee, I am a contractor. I am not worried about losing my job - that was not my whistle blower question. I want to make certain that if an audit occurs, I am not liable for (knowingly) falsifying our financial data in order to minimize our tax liability. I have received nothing in return for doing this for him (other than my hourly compensation). If I reported him, would my actions be criminal? And if they are, would reporting him put me in aplace of immunity? Thank you again.
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry you were experiencing technical difficulties and I appreciate your concern with assuring I am compensated for my time. If you continue to experience problems, please use your "help" button to contact customer service.

Knowingly reporting false information can be charged criminally, yes. The fact you are an independent contract provides you with less protection typically, so it is even more important that you have an attorney representing you before you report the issues since reporting them does NOT automatically provide you with immunity from prosecution, although that can be negotiated.

All the best to you!

Tina and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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