Most people assume that the only way to commit tax fraud is not to pay it or to lie on those documents. However, in New York, and probably most other jurisdictions, there are numerous ways to commit tax fraud.
Like the Federal Government, and most other States, New York is short on tax revenue and in response New York has recently signed a new law that increases civil and criminal penalties for fraud and tax evasion. While every State is different (and then there is a whole Federal penal system) it is useful to understand the different acts which constitute Tax Fraud. The new, New York Tax law took affect in April of 2009, so it wouldn’t surprise me if your jurisdiction recently updated their law.
Eight Ways to Commit Tax Fraud
Every State will differ, but according to William Comiskey, Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, in his article “New Criminal Tax Laws: Taking Aim at Tax Evaders” there are 8 ways to commit tax fraud in New York.
- Willful failure to File a Return or Other Required Document
- Willfully and Knowingly Making or Filing a False Return or Report or Supplying False Information (this is actually two ways)
- Willfully engaging in a Scheme to Defraud the State in Connection with Any Matter Under Tax Law
- Willfully Failing to Remit Taxes Collected on Behalf of the State
- Willfully failing to Collect a Sales, Excise or Withholding Tax that is Required to be Collected
- Willfully and With an Intent to Evade any Tax, Failing to Pay a Tax Due
- Issuing False Exemption Certificates
Note that #2 is actually 2 ways combined.
Every state will differ but New York defines “willfully” under New Tax Law Section 1801(c) as,
to mean acting with either intent to defraud, intent to evade the payment of taxes or intent to avoid a requirement of this chapter, a lawful requirement of the commissioner or a known legal duty.
The question of willful falls under the whole topic of mens rea, which I believe to be beyond the scope of this blog, but understand that if you are trying to willfully defraud the State they set up a stricter penalties with first time evaders possibly being charged as a felon.
Increased Penalties for Tax Fraud
It all comes down the cash (C.R.E.A.M. for any of those born after 1975ish). Since there is a need for almost every jurisdiction to collect additional revenues, it is not surprising that New York upped the ante when someone is going to decide to willfully defraud the State of taxes it thinks it is owed.
Have you heard about your State drafting new tax laws?
Again refer to my disclaimer, I am not your attorney, there is no attorney-client relationship from you simply reading my anonymous blog post. If you think you have committed tax fraud check with a licensed professional in your State and not on a random personal finance blog.