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Could you face charges of tax fraud or tax evasion?

As we approach the end of February, Ohio taxpayers are preparing for the next season soon to be upon us. No, we're not talking about springtime, as the frigid temperatures warn us that winter will be with us for a few more weeks.

Tax season is looming ahead. For those who will get refunds, that's great. But for the many residents who face a tax burden, April 15 is dreaded. If you fall into the latter group, you may be tempted to try to shed some of your tax debt with a little creative accounting.

Just don't do it. Tax evasion is a form of fraud, which is a white collar crime. Convictions for same can land you in the federal penitentiary and impede you for the rest of your life.

You can face allegations of tax fraud or tax evasion either from not filing a federal income tax return or by filing a return where you falsify information on it related to your income or expenses.

True, this type of cheating may go undetected — for years, in some cases. You may counter that "everyone cheats on their taxes." But that is untrue. And when you get arrested and charged with a felony related to your alleged falsifications, it won't be "everybody" on trial or heading off to prison. It will be you.

But an innocent taxpayer can make common mistakes filing their federal income tax returns that could lead to them facing these charges.

The government could target you in a routine audit, or your return could set off red flags that trigger an investigation. Suddenly, you have to defend some deductions or offer concrete proof of some purchases or business expenses that are being challenged.

Can you do it? You may, but often taxpayers are so pole-axed by the allegations that they don't know what to do next. They can then wind up embroiling themselves even deeper in tax troubles.

The good news is that you don't have to face these charges alone. A Cincinnati white collar crime defense attorney can help you fight charges of tax fraud.

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