In the state of Ohio, just like in other states, tax evasion is a serious crime that can come with severe repercussions and penalties. Crimes of tax evasion in this instance generally fall under one of two categories:
- Crimes which relate to the filing of a tax return
- Crimes which relate to the failure to file a tax return in the first place
Tax evasion happens when people willingly do not file a tax return when they are required to do so in order for their tax information to be complete and accurate. It is an intentional conduct wherein the accused might also purposefully underpay their taxes, or engage in fraud when dealing with taxes.
Importantly, simple mistakes and carelessness that might take place during a tax filing process will not be considered as tax evasion. Rather, in order to be convicted for tax evasion, the IRS must be able to prove that you have intentionally tried to hide information about your taxable assets, or underpay your taxes.
Laws and Penalties
While the focus point of most cases in tax evasion has to do with recovering the money that is owed to the IRS, the fact that tax evasion in Ohio is also seen as a federal offense means that other penalties might also be given to the accused. The pursuit of unpaid taxes is one of the most significant factors to consider in any tax evasion-based prosecution, but the law also allows for imprisonment of up to five years, and fines of up to $100,000.
In addition, the IRS may charge penalties and interest on any tax obligation that has not been paid according to its due date. For example, if the tax debt that you owe is several years old, you might find that the penalties and interest owed will reached a substantial amount. At the same time, it is worth noting that sentences for tax evasion are typically influenced by the amount of tax to pay that has been avoided, as well as the criminal behaviors an individual has undertaken in an attempt to avoid paying his or her taxes in the first place. The maximum fine for a corporation that is found guilty of tax evasion is much higher than that for an individual – at $500,000.
In some cases, tax evasion cases can also lead to court orders that require defendants to pay for any restitution that they might have benefited from. What’s more, Ohio courts might sentence a person convicted of tax evasion to probation that lasts anywhere up to three years.
Tax Evasion Defenses
As with many crimes in Ohio, defendants can launch arguments in court that might help them to avoid a conviction. Some of the most common defenses that are used in tax evasion cases across Ohio include:
- Insufficient evidence – A lawyer may attempt to prove that there is not enough evidence available to show that you willfully and deliberately neglected to pay your taxes. For instance, if it can be proven that the only reason you didn’t file your tax return was down to forgetfulness, this could be enough to dismiss an evasion charge if no other evidence can be provided that might prove otherwise.
- Challenging the IRS – In some cases, the lawyer might attempt to challenge the IRS to prove that they have not made a mistake in charging the defendant with evasion. This will also come down to the IRS’s ability to provide proof.
- Mistakes – In using this defense, lawyers must make a clear distinction. For example, if you were mistaken about what you needed to report in your tax return, or when you needed to file the documentation required by the IRS, then your attorney might indicate that you have a mistaken defense. On the other hand, simply claiming that you had no idea you were supposed to file your taxes does not count as a reasonable defense.
- Intentional conduct – Finally, it is up to the government or the person accusing you of tax evasion to prove that you, as a taxpayer had every intention of evading tax payments and purposefully took measures to fail to file the document or fill it out correctly. In proving intentional conduct, the government must also show that the defendant was fully aware of the illegality of his or her actions.
Statute of Limitations
In Ohio, tax evasion is classed as a non-capital federal offense. As a result, this crime has a statute of limitations that lasts for a maximum of five years. This means that if information regarding tax evasion is not entered with the court within a period of five years, the defendant will not be prosecuted or punished for the alleged offense.