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Tax Avoidance vs. Tax Evasion in New York: What’s the Difference? 2024

Tax Avoidance vs. Tax Evasion in New York: What’s the Difference? 2024

Tax laws in New York State are extremely complex, and the processes and procedures required to reach compliance can sometimes be unclear for individuals, organizations, and businesses. Therefore, there is a gap of hundreds of billions every year between what the government charges in taxes and what amounts are paid out. If you are unclear about tax laws or are facing tax-related charges, a New York tax lawyer can support you.

Tax avoidance and tax evasion are two critical, distinct concepts that are relevant for all taxpaying citizens and business owners. Understanding the difference between the two can help you manage your taxes within local, state, and federal rules and regulations, as well as avoid or fight against any current charges.

Tax Avoidance vs Tax Evasion in New York

Understand the Definitions: Tax Avoidance vs. Tax Evasion

Both tax avoidance and tax evasion lead to individuals paying less or no taxes. Tax avoidance is a legal method to avoid paying certain taxes that is within local, state, and federal policy compliance. You can avoid being charged or convicted for tax evasion by reporting all of your income, taking clear records of your financial transactions, and ensuring that you are eligible for certain credits and tax deductions.

Tax evasion is considered to be an illegal method to reduce or pay no taxes. Tax evasion occurs when people avoid paying taxes by not reporting all or a part of their income to the International Revenue Service or by being dishonest about their particular financial situation.

The Basics of Tax Evasion

In order for a person to be convicted of tax evasion, they have to have willingly broken the law. This can be either with regard to not reporting financial income that was earned as a result of illegal activity, such as drug dealing, or not reporting legally earned financial income.

Tax evasion can be considered withholding information, manipulating financial records, or hiding money. If an individual is found guilty of tax evasion, they can face time in prison. However, more common consequences are paying the pending tax, fines, and interest.

The Basics of Tax Avoidance

As mentioned previously, tax avoidance is a legal way to pay less or no taxes. In cases of tax avoidance, individuals report all of their earnings and income and then claim deductions in a strategic way to minimize the amount of taxes they have to pay. The IRS should be able to have sufficient evidence that demonstrates your entire financial situation and tax break eligibility.

Examples of Tax Evasion

Notorious examples of tax evasion include white-collar crimes, such as millionaires smuggling their money via offshore accounts. While this form of tax evasion does occur, it is more common for individuals to avoid paying certain taxes by more basic illegal means. For example, many individuals will be surprised to learn that not reporting money made under the table to the IRS, such as babysitting money, is considered a form of tax evasion.

However, the IRS will generally try to catch wealthier individuals who are evading taxes so that they can collect a higher amount of money. People who give tips to the IRS about evasion worth more than $2 million may receive a financial award.

Examples of Tax Avoidance

By putting your money away in retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or other pre-tax accounts, you can significantly reduce the amount of taxes that you will pay. Additionally, if you are married or have dependent children, you are entitled to certain tax breaks.

Individuals who own rental properties also have the opportunity for tax breaks through any expenses spent on repairs, depreciation, or property taxes. This can drastically reduce the amount of rental income that you will be taxed for. If you are unsure whether your tax avoidance strategy would be considered illegal or are facing tax evasion charges, a New York tax lawyer or criminal defense lawyer can support you.


Q: Can I Go to Jail for Tax Avoidance in New York?

A: No, you cannot go to jail or receive any court-ordered penalties for tax avoidance in New York because it is not against the law. Tax avoidance is a legal method of reducing the amount of taxes that you pay each year. If you are facing charges related to tax matters, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced New York tax lawyer.

Q: How Does the IRS Catch People for Tax Evasion?

A: The IRS will typically go after higher-income individuals who have submitted tax returns that illicit suspicion. They will commit thorough audits to authenticate all of the information that has been submitted in the tax returns. In order to do so, they will work closely with other organizations within the government, as well as financial and banking institutions.

Q: What Are Common New York Tax Evasion Examples?

A: Tax evasion can take many different forms and includes either the hiding of money, the underreporting of income, or the falsifying of records. Specific examples that commonly lead to charges include underreporting by not reporting any money made through a side job that may have been off the books. Additionally, another form of tax evasion is filing for certain deductions for which you are not eligible.

Q: Is Overstating Business Expenses in New York Tax Evasion?

A: Yes, if you overstate expenses related to your business, then there is likely reportable taxable income that should have been taxed. Writing off personal expenses, such as home renovations, vacations, and dinners that are not associated with the business, is against the law in New York and can constitute tax evasion. Consequences could include time in jail or prison and paying fines, taxes, and interest.

Get the Legal Tax Support That You and Your Business Need

If you have been charged with tax evasion or are currently facing audits from the IRS related to your tax returns, it is crucial to get in touch with an experienced tax lawyer who can help defend your case.

At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, our tax team understands that tax evasion charges can be extremely serious and have an impact on the rest of your life. Therefore, we work tirelessly to ensure that your case outcomes are optimized. Contact one of our NY tax lawyers today to learn more about how you can fight your tax-related charges.

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