Tax evasion is an illegal activity in which a person or entity deliberately avoids paying a true tax liability. Those caught evading taxes are generally subject to criminal charges and substantial penalties. To willfully fail to pay taxes is a federal offense under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code.
Tax evasion applies to both the illegal nonpayment as well as the illegal underpayment of taxes. Even if a taxpayer fails to submit appropriate tax forms, the IRS can still determine if taxes were owed based on the information required to be sent in by third parties, such as W-2 information from a person’s employer or 1099s. Generally, a person is not considered to be guilty of tax evasion unless the failure to pay is deemed intentional.