According to Uncle Sam, “tax avoidance is perfectly legal and encouraged by the IRS.” Tax avoidance simply means that you’re taking advantage of the legal opportunities to lessen your tax liabilities.
But tax evasion is another matter altogether. As Denis Healey once famously remarked, “The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.”
Tax evasion involves the deliberate and knowing act of cheating Uncle Sam by not rendering to him taxes on earned income. Tax evasion frequently accompanies questionable activities, such as unauthorized gambling ventures or the illegal sale of drugs. An IRS investigation may be launched because other divisions of law enforcement suspect criminal activity but do not have the resources to pursue the case or do not have the evidence to support charges. Think Al Capone here.
But you can also be considered a tax evader if you’ve willfully and repeatedly failed to report and pay taxes on legitimate income or if you underreport your tax liability by more than 25% for the year. These acts constitute fraud in the eyes of the IRS, which will prosecute you if there is sufficient evidence that you have intentionally ignored tax laws.
Punishment for tax evasion can be severe, and the IRS investigation can go back as many years as the IRS wishes to pursue. The government can assess penalties and interest to the principal amount due, and you can face fines and incarceration as well.
The good news is that, despite its reputation as a harsh enforcer of tax law, the IRS actually prefers to collect due taxes rather than jail the average citizen for tax evasion. It’s expensive to prosecute a suspected tax cheat. If Uncle Sam wins a tax case – and it usually does, since charges aren’t normally pressed unless there’s a very good chance it will win – hosting an inmate in prison heavily costs the government, and the inmate’s not going to generate a lot of money to pay delinquent liability.
This all means that if you or your business has been visited by 2 or more IRS Special Agents, or if charges of tax evasion have been filed against you, the IRS believes that there’s evidence of guilt and that the evidence is worth pursuing. It is not in your best interest to face the IRS without legal assistance. Call our team of professionals. We will review the facts related to your case, assess the best approaches for moving forward, intervene on your behalf with the IRS, and ensure that your rights are protected. And if necessary, we will represent you in court.
Criminal tax charges are nothing to take lightly. Let the tax boutique of Law Offices of Christy Lee, P.C., protect your future.