Every year, you're required to file your tax return as accurately as possible. While most people make a good effort to do so, others may try to avoid paying taxes completely. Avoiding paying taxes can lead to tax evasion charges that you have to defend against in court.
What is tax evasion?
Tax evasion is when you purposefully decide that you are not going to pay the taxes you owe. You may underpay your taxes or pay no taxes at all. Evading your taxes is a federal crime that can lead to heavy fines and prison sentences.
If you make a mistake on your tax forms, can you be accused of fraud?
It's unlikely. Most of the time, the Internal Revenue Service understands that some mistakes will be made on tax forms. The Internal Revenue Code is very complicated, so it is understandable that an individual who is not an accountant or tax professional would make a mistake. To prove that you were actually trying to commit fraud or evade your taxes, the IRS would have to show that you intended to avoid to pay your taxes. If you simply made a mistake, you would be asked to pay what you owe and possibly to pay an additional fine. Overall, you'd unlikely have to deal with the penalties that could result from a criminal trial.
Here's an example of tax fraud. If you are filing as a single adult on your tax return and have no children, you would not qualify for a child tax credit. However, if you lie and say you have a child when you do not, you would be able to access that credit. That is illegal and is considered to be fraudulent activity.
In any case where you're accused of fraud or tax evasion, your attorney can help you show that your actions were a mistake, not an intentional crime. This is the best way to prove your innocence.
Source: FindLaw, "Tax Evasion," accessed Oct. 27, 2016