An Idaho Falls man was sentenced Monday to two years of probation after pleading guilty to falsifying his W-2 forms to reduce his state taxes.
Nicolas Ivie, 41, told the court he could write a check that day for the $16,704 he owed from four years of tax fraud. Ivie told the court he was sorry and ashamed of his actions.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said he was convinced Ivie was holding himself accountable by being ready to pay what he owed that day, but said his crime was still serious.
“This is a significant amount and this offense affects the community in more ways than an individual who may go into a retail store and walk out with a burglary charge and a $100 television,” Watkins said.
An audit into Ivie’s taxes began in April 2017 after Ivie was found to have overstated his withholdings. The investigation found that Ivie had changed his W-4s, forms that tell an employer how much of an employee’s salary to withhold for taxes.
Ivie had reduced his withholdings at work, but from 2013 to 2016 he edited his W-2s to show the higher withholding amounts. Investigators with the Idaho State Tax Commission compared the submitted W-2s with those his employer, Battelle Energy, had on file to confirm Ivie had falsified his W-2s.
Investigators made multiple attempts to contact Ivie, and only once received an answer in which he said he wanted to talk to a lawyer first.
Defense Attorney Curtis Smith said in court that his client had committed tax fraud to save money and compensate for the amount he already owed in back taxes.
Smith said Ivie had lost his job at Battelle after he was charged, but had found new work and was ready to be held responsible. Smith asked the judge to give Ivie probation.
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey also recommended probation, citing Ivie’s lack of a criminal history and the presentence investigation that found Ivie was a low risk to reoffend. Dewey also asked that Ivie be sentenced to local jail. Smith responded that jail would make it difficult for Ivie to keep his job.
Watkins sentenced Ivie to an underlying sentence of one to four years in prison. Ivie will not have to serve the sentence if he follows the rules of his probation. Ivie also must serve 10 days in jail, though Watkins postponed the sentence until after the holidays.
Charges against Ivie for perjury, using a computer to obtain money or services by fraudulent pretenses and offering false or forged instrument for record were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.