Tax evasion is any illegal effort to avoid paying taxes due to the government — whether by misreporting income, hiding money or taking improper deductions. The Internal Revenue Service reports that tax evasion cost the federal government some $458 billion over three recent years.

The IRS can investigate and prosecute you for any intentional misstatement you make on your tax returns. If you have been contacted by the IRS or are charged with tax evasion, it is imperative that you have qualified legal counsel on your side.

Attorney Michael J. Petro has nearly 30 years of experience assisting individuals charged with tax evasion and other tax violations in Federal Courts in Chicago and throughout the United States.

Examples of Tax Evasion

If you evade taxes the IRS may decide to prosecute you. What types of evasive taxpayer conduct may trigger an IRS review of your finances?

Failing to report income and under-reporting income are among the most common forms of tax evasion. Certain businesses  — including scrap metal processors, and beauty and barber shops, and people involved in the gaming industry — have historically been targets of the IRS because owners often have minimized the number of payments received.

Falsifying data, whether on a business or personal income tax return, is considered to be a form of tax evasion. In addition, claiming improper deductions or overstating their amounts, claiming personal expenses for a business, hiding income or assets, and keeping more than one set of books for a business can put you in legal jeopardy with the IRS.

For businesses, tax evasion can take the form of falsifying payroll records and failing to pay the correct amount of employment taxes.

Penalties Can Be Severe

If you are charged with tax evasion, understand that this charge is a felony that can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment, and loss of your house and money, and loss of your gun card. Working with an experienced attorney Michael J. Petro is essential to protecting your rights and assets.

The Federal statute that imposes criminal penalties states that penalties for tax evasion can include up to five years in prison, and fines of up to $100,000 for citizens — and $500,000 for businesses. Sentences for tax evasion can increase depending on a number of aggravating  factors, including the amount of taxes a defendant evaded, using a sophisticated method to avoid paying taxes, as well as earning the unreported income through criminal conduct.

Defending Against Tax Evasion Charges

If you are charged with tax evasion, you gain the best possible advantage in protecting your freedom and assets by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney. After carefully studying the facts of your case, he will identify strategies to defend you and, if you are found guilty, minimize the penalties.

To secure a conviction in a tax evasion case, a prosecutor must first prove the existence of a tax deficiency — or a failure to pay taxes owed — along with a deliberate attempt to avoid paying. The prosecutor also must show that a defendant was aware of the legal duty to pay and intentionally evaded payment.

Good defenses to tax evasion charges include proving that no tax deficiency exists — because the income at the heart of the case is nontaxable, or that a deduction wipes out the tax deficiency, or that the government is mistaken in its calculations.  

Another possible defense to a tax evasion charge is negligence. Under the law, negligent or careless mistakes without the intent to fraudulently under report taxes does not constitute a criminal offense.

Get Assistance from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Illinois

If you’re charged with tax evasion, you can be subject to severe criminal penalties, including imprisonment and loss of your hard earned money and assets. By working with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you have the best opportunity to clear your name and avoid penalties. For a consultation, please contact Michael J. Petro.