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Will you be arrested for a tax mistake?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Tax Law

When doing their taxes, people sometimes worry that they’re going to make a mistake that has serious ramifications. They imagine IRS agents coming to the house and going through their documents. They think that they will have to pay heavy fines, be accused of fraud or even be arrested. They try very hard to get all of the details right on their taxes to avoid this outcome.

While it certainly is important to attempt to do the taxes correctly, is this a valid fear? Could someone just make a paperwork error and then find themselves under arrest for not paying the correct amount of taxes to the government?

It has to be intentional

The short answer is that no, tax mistakes are not going to lead to an arrest. Someone is not going to be accused of fraud for making an error. Maybe they didn’t understand the document or they skipped a page on their tax return. There are any number of small mistakes people can make. It may be as simple as doing math incorrectly when trying to add up the totals. These things happen.

But as long as these are honest mistakes, they are not illegal. It is only illegal to willfully and intentionally underreport your taxes so that you don’t have to pay the proper amount. When an audit is conducted, the IRS will determine if it was just an accident or if there is other evidence – such as a pattern of behavior – that shows that it was intentional.

That said, those who are going through this process certainly need to understand all of their legal options. It can be stressful to deal with the IRS and you do not want to make any crucial mistakes.