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Tax Fraud Crimes
RT 19705(a) & 19706 Law & Defense

Information on the crime of tax return fraud is found at California Revenue and Taxation code section 19705(a) and 19706.

RT 19705(a)(1): It is a crime to willfully and knowingly make any material false statement or omission in a tax return that is signed under penalty of perjury (Abbrev. & Summarized).

Note: If the defendant signed the tax return it is presumed that the defendant knew what information was contained in the tax return.


Jail: Tax return fraud is charged as a felony. If found guilty of  tax return fraud the defendant could face up to  sixteen months, two, or three years in jail. The sentence that the defendant is ordered to serve depends mostly on the the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors, the defendant's criminal history, and the terms of any plea agreement, if any.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of a jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in RT 19705(a)(1) cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant is allowed to serve a probation sentence instead of a jail sentence after a conviction for tax return fraud depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history, if any, the facts of the case, and the terms of a plea agreement, if any.

Work Release: Work release is a type of manual labor punishment that usually include picking up trash near a county jail or a highway. Work release is an alternative to jail punishment that is allowed in RT 19705(a) cases, but it is not guaranteed. Sometimes, the defendant must serve an actual jail sentence, even if the defendant is granted a probation sentence (jail as a condition of probation); however, jail sentences that are related to probation sentence typically much shorter than non-probation jail sentences for tax return fraud, which could be 16 months, 2, or 3,years.

PC 4019: If the defendant is convicted of tax return fraud and is ordered to serve a jail or work release sentence (or both), then the defendant may have that sentence reduced by up to fifty percent (50%) for good behavior while serving that sentence. For example, if the defendant is sentenced to jail for sixteen months after a conviction for RT 19705(a), then the defendant will only serve eight months of actual jail time if he or she is serving his or her sentence on good behavior (PC 4019 good behavior credits are also known as day for day credits).. 

PC 1170(h): If the defendant is found guilty of tax return fraud and he or she is not granted a probation sentence, then he or she may serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison. In addition, any jail sentence related to RT 19705(a) convictions could be split (served partially out of jail on work release or house arrest), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a condition of his or her out of custody release).

CIMT: RT 19705(a) is considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). A crime involving moral turpitude is a crime that is considered morally wrong or otherwise involves deceit. If convicted of a CIMT, including  tax return fraud, the defendant will suffer collateral punishments related to immigration status and/or professional licensing status (doctor, dentist, lawyers, etc.). Non US citizens may be deported or denied reentry into the US if convicted of RT 19705(a) and professionals may have licenses required to practice in their profession revoked or suspended.

Three Strikes Law: Tax return Fraud is not a strike offense per California's Three Strikes Law.

Bail: $25,000 (San Bernardino County 2020)

Note: Bail is a surety bond, consisting of money or property, staked with the court, that serves as a condition of release for custody assurance that the defendant will appear in court as ordered. If the defendant does not stake bail with the court (usually through a bail agent) then he or she may not be released from custody during the court process. If the defendant is released on bail and fails to appear, then he or she may have their bail money or property forfeited. In some cases, the defendant may be released without the need for bail (Own Recognizance Release) 

In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of RT 19705(a), the defendant could face any of the following punishments: fines and fees, restitution, denial of entry into the military, loss of the right to own or possess a firearm, and more.


Common defenses to tax return fraud crimes include: insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, jury nullification, illegal search and seizure, impeachment of witness who claim the defendant knew of any inaccuracies in his or her tax return, and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with tax return fraud, or RT 19705(a)(1), contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Tax Return Fraud

Code: RT 19705(a)

Wobbler: RT 19705(a) is not a wobbler. RT 19705(a) is charged as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​RT 19705(a) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2, or 3 years. 

Probation: Probation is available in RT 19705(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. RT 19705(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: RT 19705(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: RT 19705(a) is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: RT 19705(a) convictions prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. 

Bail: $25,000 (San Bernardino County)

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