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Continued: What is tax evasion, and what are the penalties for it?

Our immediately preceding blog post raised some initial issues concerning tax evasion (please see our February 5 entry), which we elaborate on a bit more in today's post.

A fundamental point regarding the purposeful underpayment of taxes, as noted in a media primer on tax evasion, is the bright line that divides intentionally evasive activity from simple error. In examining a tax filing, an Internal Revenue Service agent seeking to prove tax evasion must show that a filer made a deliberate attempt to underpay taxes owed to the government.

Although he result might logically be the same for a negligent filer committing a simple mistake, the penalties are different. Simple error typically results in an IRS demand for payment of what is owed, with a fine sometimes tacked on.

Tax evasion is a starkly different animal. It is a soberly construed federal criminal offense that government enforcement officials often focus in on with vigor and prosecutorial zeal. Conviction can result in heavy fines and a lengthy prison term for a defendant.

The sources of tax evasion are many and varied, and IRS investigators zeroed in on a criminal suspect will be especially focused on things like underreported income, inflated expenses, offshore accounts, deductions that don't immediately make sense and questionable charitable contributions.

A legitimate point that is sometimes made by commentators on the IRS is that innocent victims can get ensnared in fraud-focused investigations, especially when they are employees simply going about their company-related business activities. It is not uncommon for some persons involved in a fraudulent business activity to be unaware that they are engaging in any wrongdoing.

The government brings considerable resources to bear in tax fraud investigations. Any person who is targeted in such a tax-related probe might reasonably want to secure proven and aggressive legal counsel at the earliest opportunity.

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Continued: What is tax evasion, and what are the penalties for it? | Frank A. Rubino, Esq.