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Can you be arrested for mistakes on your tax return?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | White-collar crimes

The dreaded tax season is here. Each season comes with many changes to the laws. It’s often hard to keep up with them, so filers may worry that they aren’t doing something right. This brings up a question about whether it’s possible to be arrested for making a mistake on a tax return.

One of the distinguishing factors about tax fraud is that there generally must be willful intent, but the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t make it easy to know what that is. If you willfully try to avoid paying federal income taxes, you’re facing a felony charge.

Mistakes typically aren’t willful

In most cases, a simple tax mistake isn’t going to lead to criminal charges because it won’t be considered willful. An exception to this might be if the same filer continues to make the same mistake year after year. Then, it could be a case of willful ignorance, which means they simply weren’t willing to learn from their mistakes.

One specific point the IRS may look for is the presence of efforts to conceal the mistakes. These could be construed as acknowledging that you knew you were willfully filing an incorrect tax return. Because of this, it’s always best to ensure the tax return you file is accurate and that there’s nothing that could be viewed as an act to cover up a fraudulent return.

If you’re facing problems from the IRS, it’s best to work with someone who knows how to handle these. Some options you have might be time-sensitive, so don’t wait too long to learn about your options. This is especially important if there’s a chance you’ll face criminal charges.