As you do your taxes, it’s natural to worry about making a mistake. You may be concerned that it’s going to look like you’re trying to commit fraud.
For instance, what if you forget to list some of your income? Is the government going to believe that you’re trying to commit tax evasion by hiding these earnings? People are often very stressed out about this and they go over the documents many times to make sure that they didn’t make a mistake.
While it is good to make sure that you haven’t committed any errors and to check your work consistently, it is also important to know that tax fraud and tax mistakes are not the same thing.
It has to be a willful act
The key to remember is that you have to willfully commit tax evasion. It has to be intentional. You have to know that that’s what you’re doing and you have to do it on purpose.
Forgetting to list a sale that brought in $10,000 may be a major error on your taxes. Not listing that sale on purpose so that you don’t have to pay taxes on those $10,000 may be tax fraud. But the mere fact that you didn’t list it does not mean that you’ve committed fraud. It could be an unintentional mistake.
As a result, you shouldn’t worry about strict ramifications, such as legal action, just because you made a mistake. Yes, it could trigger an audit, and yes, you may have to pay fines due to the error. You are expected to attempt to do your taxes correctly. But you’re not going to be arrested for making an accidental mistake. The only reason for something like this to happen would be when it’s clear that you have committed intentional fraud and the IRS has discovered it.
Navigating the system
Even if you understand that you had no intent to commit fraud, this can still be a stressful and complicated time. The system is not always easy to navigate and you need to know exactly what steps to take. This is especially true if you’re worried that the IRS believes you committed fraud when you know that you only made an error.