Do you feel nervous when you do your taxes? Maybe you don’t want to pay someone to do it for you — or you can’t afford it — and yet you are well aware that no one ever taught you how to do your taxes. You just try to fill out the forms as well as you can, constantly worrying that you’re making a mistake.
That sense of fear comes from the fact that people often assume that the taxes need to be flawless or the IRS is going to come in with fines, jail time and other serious ramifications. They’re going to accuse you of cheating the government out of their money, and you know that’s not a fight you can win. Yet, you always feel you are on the very edge of it.
Here’s the truth, though: People do make tax mistakes. It happens all the time. Many Americans who do their own taxes, including business owners, have no training and very little experience. That breeds all sorts of mistakes.
Now, the goal should be to do the taxes perfectly, but you should also remember that there is a big difference between actively committing tax fraud and making an error on confusing paperwork. If you didn’t have any intent to defraud anyone, you’re not breaking the law. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay anything, but some of your fear may be misguided.
That said, if you’re accused of fraud over an innocent mistake, you must know what legal options you have.