In just a couple of weeks, most people in the United States will have to have filed their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. Some people may have received extensions, but most will need to have them mailed by April 18. For those who are just getting to their filings, it is understandable to be a little stressed out about this task and, under such stress, it is conceivable that you will make a mistake or two.
Making mistakes like this is common, and most tax filings that have minor math errors are simply corrected by the IRS. The agency realizes that the tax code is complicated and if the error is honest in nature, then the IRS won't take any action. If the error is still honest in nature but egregious enough that action needs to be taken, then the IRS will declare your mistake "tax negligence" and probably fine you for the infraction.
However, if your "mistake" turns out to be a purposeful act that you committed to avoid paying taxes or to defraud the IRS, then you would be charged with a criminal act called "tax fraud." What constitutes tax fraud? Consider the following:
- If you intentionally don't pay your taxes, then it is tax fraud
- If you intentionally don't send a tax return to the IRS, that is tax fraud
- If you intentionally make false claims, underreport income or conceal forms of income, that is tax fraud
Tax fraud is a serious charge, and anyone accused of it needs to protect their rights.
Source: FindLaw, "Income Tax: Fraud vs. Negligence," Accessed April 6, 2017