If you are charged with a tax offense, it is important that you handle it just as seriously as you would handle any other criminal charge. Although tax-related offenses are white collar crimes, meaning they are non-violent offenses that are often financially motivated, you can face penalties like incarceration and steep fines for a tax crime conviction.
When an individual uses illegal means to avoid paying taxes, he or she may be charged with tax evasion. Tax evasion does not occur when an individual inadvertently does not pay taxes, cannot afford to pay taxes, or uses existing tax credits and other legal means to reduce his or her tax burden. Tax evasion occurs when an individual intentionally deceives the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid paying taxes. Acts of tax evasion include:
Civil versus Criminal Tax Fraud
Criminal tax fraud is known as tax evasion. It is also possible to face a civil tax fraud charge. To be convicted of tax evasion, the court must demonstrate your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With a civil tax fraud charge, the IRS must only provide clear and convincing evidence that you committed civil tax fraud. The penalties for this offense are also purely financial. For civil tax fraud, you may be fined a percentage of the amount you are found to have underpaid or the amount that you owe. For a criminal tax evasion conviction, you can face jail time, fines, and asset seizures.
Handling a Criminal Tax Evasion Charge
When you are notified of a criminal charge against you, contact an experienced tax defense lawyer as soon as you can to determine how to respond. Do not respond directly to the IRS representative. Your lawyer will tell you how to interact with the IRS and the court and what to do next.
A tax evasion charge should not take you by surprise. The Tax Division of the Department of Justice will only file a charge at the IRS’ request after the IRS has conducted an investigation of your case, which could follow an audit or a detection of possible fraud by a tax collector.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Tax Defense Lawyer
If you are facing a criminal charge related to your alleged underreporting, failure to report your taxes, or any other act of tax fraud, it is important that you start working with an experienced tax charge defense lawyer as soon as possible to develop a legal strategy to fight the charge. To get started with a member of our team, contact North Suburban Legal Services LLC to set up your initial legal consultation.