Nobody likes to pay taxes. But what happens when you actually don’t pay your taxes? The crime of tax evasion is often in the news, and with how commonly people see it occurring many people have questions about what tax evasion is, exactly, and what the penalties are for committing tax evasion. This post will provide an overview of tax evasion, including the different forms it takes, penalties for tax evasion, how one is convicted of tax evasion, and potential defenses to tax evasion.
What is Tax Evasion?
Tax evasion occurs when an individual intentionally attempts to avoid paying taxes by utilizing illegal means. Tax evasion can be committed by an individual, a business, a trust, or any other organization required to pay taxes. Tax evasion can take the form of an individual, group, or other entity failing to file their tax returns, or it can take the form of intentional misrepresentation of income to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).
Is Tax Evasion a Big Deal?
Whether tax evasion is a significant offense depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, people just get busy and honestly forget to file a tax return. They may have been dealing with difficult life circumstances and gotten overwhelmed by their to-do list or responsibilities. Oftentimes, these sorts of violations are treated as misdemeanors and do not carry serious, long-term consequences. On the other hand, if an individual repeatedly fails to file their tax returns over the span of several years, that tends to be treated as a more severe violation. A pattern of failing to file can indicate the evasion was intentional.
How is Someone Found Guilty of Tax Evasion?
To prove that someone is guilty of tax evasion, the government must prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the government must prove that the person or entity to be charged does, in fact, have an unpaid tax liability, which means that there is evidence that taxes which should have been paid were not paid. Next, the government needs to show that this was an intentional act, not the result of an accident or other unintentional circumstances. If both of these elements are proven, the punishment can include a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation, and/or a maximum jail sentence of five years.
What Are Some Possible Defenses to Tax Evasion Charges?
It is important to remember that the government needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that unfiled tax returns were purposely not filed. If an individual can push back against the argument that they did not deliberately avoid paying their taxes, they may be able to successfully avoid a wrongful conviction.
What Do I Do if I Am Charged With Tax Evasion?
If you are charged with committing tax evasion, it is deeply important that you contact an attorney right away. The government has the full force of the IRS and other government resources on its side, and without experienced, skilled representation you could be facing a steep penalty, jail time, or both. The attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC know there are many reasons good people simply forget to or inaccurately file their taxes. Contact Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC today to discuss your options.
Posted in: White Collar Crimes