Evasion involves some affirmative act to evade or defeat a tax, or payment of tax. Examples of affirmative acts are deceit, subterfuge, camouflage, concealment, attempts to color or obscure events, or make things seem other than they are.
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Failing to file a tax return itself is not necessarily considered tax evasion. The intent is what matters. To prove tax evasion, the IRS must show that you intentionally did not file with the purpose of failing to pay or underpaying federal income tax. The same is true for underreporting income. The IRS must show that you intentionally failed to report all the income, either legally or illegally obtained. Tax evasion is a criminal act punishable by fines and/or prison time. Some confuse tax evasion with tax avoidance. Tax avoidance is a plan to legally reduce or postpone the amount of taxes you owe, such as putting funds in a retirement account.
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