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Tax fraud vs. tax mistakes: What’s the difference? 

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2022 | White-collar Crime

It’s very natural to be worried about making mistakes on your taxes. You don’t want to run into trouble with the IRS, whether that means facing an audit or paying fines.

But people often worry that things are going to be even worse than that. They’re concerned that they’re going to make a tax mistake that will send IRS agents to their door, accusing them of fraud. They’re worried that this could cause them to spend time in jail and even have a criminal record. Is this something you need to be concerned with?

Intent matters

The big thing to remember in a scenario like this is that your intent matters significantly when it comes to tax mistakes 

If you’ve just made an honest mistake, such as copying down the number wrong or genuinely forgetting about a financial account, you may still have to go through an audit or pay the proper amount of money. But this isn’t illegal activity. You haven’t committed a crime. The government understands that people make mistakes on their taxes because most people doing their taxes have absolutely no training.

However, if the IRS believes that you have intentionally falsified your records in order to get out of paying taxes, then it’s not a mistake. Then it’s fraud. This is when you could face more serious accusations and potential criminal charges. 

That being said, if they make these accusations, they typically have to prove that you knew what you were doing and you did it on purpose. If you do find yourself in this situation, make sure you are well aware of all of your legal options.