Tax evasion is a serious crime with serious consequences

Tax evasion and tax fraud are two of the more serious types of white collar crimes. While you may assume you're doing nothing more than bending the rules, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may not feel the same way.

Title 26 U.S.C. Section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) of 1986 makes it clear that any attempt "to evade or defeat" taxes is illegal. Convictions can result in fines of up to $100,000, and as many as five years in prison.

There are many forms of criminal tax violation, including but not limited, to:

  • Filing a false tax return
  • Income tax evasion
  • Falsifying records
  • Hiding income and/or assets
  • Sales tax fraud
  • Failure to report international income
  • Knowingly inflating business or personal expenses

It's easy to assume that you can break the rules just a bit and get away with it. For example, some people move income into offshore accounts, assuming that it'll remain out of sight from the IRS. As long as you report the income in the appropriate manner, there's nothing wrong with this. However, if you do this in an attempt to save on your taxes, it can result in big time trouble.

What about a tax mistake?

Just because you make a mistake on your tax return doesn't mean you will be prosecuted. The IRS realizes that the tax code is complex, and for this reason they know mistakes happen.

As long as you are honest and always do your best to provide accurate information, you don't have anything to worry about from a legal perspective. Sure, an audit could lead to the need for some changes to your return, but you won't have to concern yourself with criminal penalties.

If you are charged with tax evasion or a similar crime, you need to learn more about your situation and what lead you down this path. Once you understand what's going on, you can focus on your legal rights and the best defense strategy for putting the incident behind you as quickly as possible.

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