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Pennsylvania Tax Evasion Laws

Every year, Americans across the country begrudgingly offer up a portion of their income to state and federal taxes -- although residents of seven states need only pay federal income taxes (i.e. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming). But don’t pick up and move to these seemingly lucky states just yet -- residents of these states make up for the lack of income taxes by paying higher property taxes, sales taxes, etc.

In general, you should always make the best effort to complete your returns as honestly and accurately as possible. Tax evasion is a crime under Pennsylvania state law. It includes any attempt or scheme to cheat the government out of tax income. It also includes any failure to allow an agent of the taxation department of the government to inspect or examine the defendant's books, papers, or records -- or who knowingly makes false or fraudulent reports by failing to disclose the full amount of net income.

It is important to note that Pennsylvania does not have a statute of limitations for tax evasion at the state level. This means that the state of Pennsylvania can still come after you, regardless of whether the alleged instance of tax evasion happened five, or even fifty, years ago. The state of limitations does not apply to tax evasion at the federal level with the IRS.

Additional details about Pennsylvania's tax evasion laws can be found in the following table.

Statute 72 Pa. Stat. Section 3402-601

The defendant may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sentenced to pay a fine of no more than $1,000 plus the costs of prosecution. The defendant may also be imprisoned for up to three years. This may be in addition to the fine or in place of the fine, or both.

The sentence will be at the discretion of the court and may be based on the severity of the crime.

Defenses to Tax Evasion Charges
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Entrapment
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Mistake
  • Insanity

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more general information, check out FindLaw’s sections on tax evasion, tax fraud, and financial crime. If you have more specific questions or are seeking legal advice, consult with a local tax lawyer.

Pennsylvania Tax Evasion Law: Related Resources

Get Peace of Mind About Your Tax Evasion Case: Call an Attorney Today

Not paying your required share of taxes is considered much more serious than simply not paying your phone bill or the minimum amount on your credit card balance, since tax revenue is necessary for governments to operate. If you have been charged with tax evasion in Pennsylvania (or by the federal government), you will want to seek legal counsel. Get started today by meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer.

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