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Things to know about tax evasion and tax fraud

The tax system in the United States is anything but simple. No matter who you are, even if you have knowledge of how the system works, there will be times when you make mistakes and face challenges.

As a taxpayer, there are many things you need to know about tax evasion and fraud. With the right knowledge, it's much easier to avoid a situation that lands you in serious trouble with the IRS.

Here is the first thing you need to know: A mistake on your tax return is not the same thing as tax fraud.

The Internal Revenue Code is more complex than most people realize. This is why it's common to make mistakes every now and again. Although you should do your best to avoid mistakes, the IRS is well aware of the fact that this happens.

Tax evasion is when you take steps to defraud the IRS. There are many examples of this, such as sheltering money overseas or attempting to hide cash earnings.

To be convicted of tax evasion, the IRS must be able to prove that you deliberately underpaid. Once again, this is a deliberate move, not a basic mistake or a math error.

If you make a mistake on your tax return, you may have to file an amended return and also pay additional money in the form of penalties and fees.

With a tax evasion conviction, the consequences are much more serious. For example, depending on the severity, you could face a hefty fine and/or imprisonment.

The more you know about tax evasion and tax fraud the easier it is to avoid trouble with the IRS.

If you receive notice that you are being investigated for this serious crime, it's important to understand why and to then formulate a defense strategy. This will go a long way in putting you on track to avoiding an extensive punishment that could ruin your life.

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Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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