Tax fraud, a type of federal fraud, is the intentional attempt to avoid paying taxes to the United States government. Generally speaking, this form of fraud typically results in fines and the possibility of imprisonment.
As someone accused of this crime, it's important to be able to differentiate between tax fraud and negligence. Sometimes, what some perceive as you being fraudulent with your taxes is simply an oversight. For instance, if you do your own taxes, you might be unaware of a new law or particular form to file, which could lead to an error.
There are some specific activities the Internal Revenue Service typically tags as fraudulent behavior that is likely intentional. These include:
- Falsifying documents
- Using false Social Security numbers
- Underreporting income intentionally
- Keeping two sets of ledgers
- Overstating exemptions and deductions
- Falsifying business expenses
It's most common for people paid only in cash or the self-employer to make mistakes or to participate in fraud, because there are many cash transactions. It's easy for these individuals to underreport income from cash sales or payments. Some of the jobs found to have the most people committing fraud include doctors, car dealers, restaurant owners, hairdressers and salespeople.
Since income tax reporting is usually done by individuals themselves, the courts do generally punish fraud harshly as a way to prevent and discourage fraud. Some possible penalties include prison time, heavy fines, civil taxes and other penalties. Anyone accused of these crimes needs to understand their rights and how to best defend themselves against the punishments that they could face if convicted of fraud.