We say it often, but it bears repeating: In criminal law, intent is almost everything. You may knock someone out in a bar fight and find yourself in jail. If the prosecutor can prove that you hit the guy intending to kill him, you are facing much more serious charges. Look through our website and see the different crimes that involve intent: possession of drugs with intent to deliver versus possession of drugs, first-degree murder versus manslaughter, felony assault versus felony assault with intent to kill.
In North Carolina, intent is the difference between the death sentence and life in prison without possibility of parole. While some would argue that life in prison is the worse punishment, the state sees it differently.
We bring this up right now because it is tax time, and we have heard people who are strapped for cash wondering out loud what would happen if they just ignored the whole thing this year. We thought it a good time to talk about tax evasion and tax fraud.
Tax evasion is, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, the willful and criminal attempt to evade the payment of a lawfully due tax. Tax evasion is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 5 years. There are fines, as well.
Tax evasion is not the result of a subtraction error or typo. The taxpayer is consciously making the decision not to pay or to underpay a tax. That mistake can earn you a penalty and interest on the amount owed, and it can get you into major trouble with the IRS, but you won’t do time for it.
Ahh, but how does the IRS know? We’ll explain in our next post.
Source: NOLO.com, “Negligence Versus Tax Fraud: How the IRS Tells the Difference,” accessed Feb. 27, 2015