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Defining tax evasion

For many people in Missouri and across the country, filing taxes is a daunting task. Many people worry about the ability to pay or the potential consequences of making a mistake while filing. While making a mistake will likely not result in criminal charges, deliberate tax evasion could have significant legal consequences.

The key to whether an act might result in criminal charges is whether it is considered to be deliberate and purposeful. There are two types of evasion: evasion of assessment and evasion of payment. In the former, the person is accused of transferring assets in an attempt to prevent the determination of true liability. In the latter, the person is accused of attempting to hide assets after the payment becomes due.

There are a variety of different acts that are considered to be tax evasion. These include maintaining two sets of books, holding property in someone else’s name, destroying records and making false invoices, among others. The consequences of a conviction can be severe and can include a fine up to $250,000, in addition to payment of taxes owed, and a prison sentence up to five years.

A person can be found guilty of tax evasion only if there is sufficient evidence to prove that there was “an affirmative act to evade” the payment or assessment of taxes. Because of the complexity of the tax code, people in Missouri facing such accusations may be unsure how to best respond to allegations of a crime. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals who can help guide them through the process. 

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