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Tax evasion is a serious offense that could result in significant financial and other penalties. If you are convicted of evading your obligation to pay income or other taxes, you could face many years in jail. You could also be obligated to pay any balance owed plus interest and penalties. Therefore, if you are accused of this crime, it is important that you hire an attorney right away.
Tax Evasion Or Tax Avoidance?
It is important to understand that it is completely legal to engage in tax avoidance. Tax avoidance occurs when you deduct moving expenses or a tax credit that you are entitled to receive. Those who own businesses may be able to deduct expenses or have some leeway over how they recognize revenue their companies generate.
Tax evasion occurs when you fail to report income or take a deduction or credit that you aren’t entitled to. For instance, a person who doesn’t have a child claiming a child tax credit would be engaging in tax evasion. It is worth noting that to be convicted of a criminal penalty, the government would need to prove intent. In most cases, inadvertently taking a deduction or credit that you aren’t entitled to isn’t a criminal act.
How Does the Government Find Out About Tax Evasion?
The IRS will generally only prosecute a person for tax evasion if his or her actions are especially egregious. For example, if a person fails to report more than 25 percent of his or her income, that could trigger an investigation. If a person claims $20,000 in income and $50,000 in charitable deductions, that would likely trigger an investigation.
It is worth noting that the IRS will generally work with people who engage with an audit in good faith. Those who turn themselves in may also be given reduced penalties in exchange for their cooperation. Therefore, if you receive an audit notice from the government, make it a point to respond to that notice. If necessary, your attorney can respond to the notice, and an attorney can handle any future discussions with the IRS as well.
What If You Just Made a Mistake?
Making a mistake on a tax return generally doesn’t result in jail time or other criminal penalties. However, if may still result in a sizable financial penalty in addition to paying addition taxes and interest. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have your return checked by a tax professional before sending it in. To reduce the chances of making an error that could lead to a tax evasion charge, you can amend your return as soon as an error is spotted.
What Happens If a Tax Preparation Professional Engages in Fraud?
No matter who prepares your return, you are responsible for its contents. Therefore, if your accountant changed information on your return to inflate a refund, you would still face a charge of tax evasion. Of course, the IRS will likely work with you if there is proof that another person or entity engaged in fraud. Your attorney may be able to work out a deal that allows you to avoid most or all penalties in exchange for your cooperation.
Is It Possible to Negotiate a Plea Deal?
In most cases, it is possible to work out a plea deal that could reduce or eliminate some or all penalties in the matter. The quality of your plea deal depends on the circumstances of your case. It also depends on if you have any information that the government could use to recover money from others.
In you have been charged with tax evasion, don’t wait to hire an attorney. The longer you wait, the longer the IRS has to build a case against you. Ultimately, this could hinder your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in the matter.