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5 possible defenses for federal tax evasion charges

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Federal Crime

Facing federal tax evasion charges can be stressful. Individuals do have several potential defenses to protect their rights and interests.

Understanding these defenses is helpful for anyone facing such serious allegations.

1. Failure to prove willfulness

Willfulness requires the prosecution to show that the accused intentionally and knowingly attempted to evade paying taxes. If the individual can prove that any discrepancies or errors were unintentional and resulted from negligence or misunderstanding rather than deliberate evasion, it could weaken the prosecution’s case.

2. Lack of sufficient evidence

Another defense strategy is challenging the sufficiency of evidence. To get a conviction, the government must provide substantial evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that tax evasion occurred. If there are gaps or inconsistencies in the evidence, the prosecution may fail to meet its burden of proof.

3. Reliance on professional advice

Individuals may assert a defense based on their reliance on professional advice. If they can demonstrate that they acted in good faith and reasonably relied on the advice of accountants or tax professionals when preparing their tax returns, it may mitigate any allegations of intentional wrongdoing. However, this defense requires evidence to support the claim that the advice received was reasonable and that the individual followed it in good faith.

4. Statute of limitations

Another potential defense is the expiration of the statute of limitations. The government must initiate legal proceedings within a certain time frame from the alleged commission of the offense. If the prosecution fails to meet this deadline, the accused may be able to have the charges dismissed based on the statute of limitations.

5. Mistake of fact

Those accused of federal tax evasion may argue a defense of mistake of fact. This defense asserts that any discrepancies or omissions on their tax returns resulted from a genuine mistake or misunderstanding, rather than a deliberate attempt to evade taxes.

By understanding these defenses, individuals can better navigate the complexities of the legal system.