Wednesday, 28 October 2020 12:57

Sandhills couple indicted for failure to pay employment taxes, file tax returns

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A federal grand jury in Greensboro, North Carolina, returned an indictment (Tuesday), charging a North Carolina couple with federal employment tax and individual income tax violations. 


As alleged in the indictment, from 1992 through the present, James Rice was an orthopedic  surgeon who owned and operated an orthopedic practice that the indictment refers to as “Sandhills Orthopaedic.” The indictment further alleges that his wife, Susan Rice, worked at Sandhills Orthopaedic and handled the administrative operations, including payroll and employment tax obligations. Susan Rice also purportedly owned and operated a truffle business. 

The Rices have been charged with a variety of tax offenses, including conspiring to not pay any taxes on their business and personal income and to defraud the United States by failing to pay employment taxes owed by Sandhills Orthopaedic. Between 2007 and 2014, the Rices allegedly withheld employment taxes from Sandhills Orthopaedic’s employees, but failed to pay over approximately $580,000 in social security and other tax withholdings to the IRS. The indictment also alleges that the Rices did not file individual income tax returns for the 2014 through 2016  tax years, despite earning gross income in excess of the filing threshold, and that James Rice did not file corporate tax returns for an entity over which he was president for the 2014 through 2017  tax years. 

If convicted, the Rices face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000  fine for each conspiracy, tax evasion, and employment tax count. They also face one year in prison for each of the charges relating to failing to file individual and corporate tax returns. They are also subject to additional monetary penalties, supervised release, and restitution. 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Martin commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Alexander Effendi and Michael Jones of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.