Tax evasion is usually understood to be an act in which an individual intentionally chooses to not pay income taxes due. This act of not paying taxes may be conducted by simply chooses to not file an income tax return, or choosing to not include information about taxable income on the filed return. In all instances, this act can be considered to be fraud, and usually carries stiff penalties.
While there are some that consider any type of omission from the tax return to constitute tax evasion, it is important to remember that it is possible to omit an item simply because the data was overlooked when filing the return. Thus, the intent of the individual plays a key role in determining if tax evasion has taken place. When the return fails to include information simply because the filer overlooked the data, there is a good chance that the tax agency will still impose a fine of some sort, but no further action would be taken.
However, when it can be demonstrated that the individual willfully attempted to hide information about income that was subject to withholding, the tax agency may choose to impose more than a simple interest fine on the amount omitted. The filer may be subject to stiff fines associated with the deliberate failure to file an accurate tax return, or even possibly face prosecution and some time spent in jail for the intentional negligence.
Tax evasion is considered a crime, and is often classified as fraud. All citizens suffer from tax evasion, as the act prevents the government from collecting funds to use for the operation of essential services to the population. When these funds are not collected, services have to be curtailed and thus result in a lower quality of life for all citizens.
Persons who become aware of an error on calculating taxes on reported income or notice that income was inadvertently left off the tax return for a given period should contact the tax agency and make arrangements to file an amended return as soon as possible. This will help to minimize the chances of being suspected of tax evasion, and allow the matter to be settled before interest charges become significant.