Missouri Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion Laws

As the saying goes, nothing is as certain as death and taxes. But, what happens if you decide to not pay those taxes? Tax fraud or tax evasion is when someone purposefully underpays his or her taxes. This is not an innocent mistake in preparing your taxes, but intentionally completing forms inaccurately in order to owe less to the state.

Tax evasion and fraud are penalized in Missouri, both criminally and administratively by the local Department of Revenue, depending on the fraud perpetrated and the intent of the person who owed the taxes. Read on to learn more about Missouri's tax fraud and evasion laws.

Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion Penalties

Generally, tax fraud and tax evasion are white collar crimes with smaller penalties, such as a misdemeanor or infraction with a fine. Additionally, tax evaders may owe the correctly calculated unpaid taxes as well as the cost to the state of Missouri for the prosecution to collect those taxes. Both individuals and corporations can be found to evade their taxes and both can be fined accordingly.

Missouri Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion Laws: Statutes

The following table highlights the main provisions of Missouri's tax fraud related laws.

Code Sections

Missouri Revised Statutes: Title X - Taxation and Revenue contains both the taxation procedural laws and penalties, including criminal, for tax evasion. This section describes primarily the administrative law outcomes, such as hearings by the County Board of Equalization, for not paying your taxes.

Missouri Revised Statutes: Chapter 576 - Offenses Affecting the Government

What's Prohibited? What's the Penalty?

Missouri prohibits any of the following tax evasion related activities, among other more specific statutes. The laws explicitly state some penalties or you must refer to the standard criminal penalty schedule in the next section.

  • Failure to Give a Tax List - It's an infraction to fail to provide a true tax list of your taxable property to the tax assessor.
  • Official Misconduct - Conversely, if a tax collector collects taxes when none are due or demands more than due, it's official misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Double Assessments for Fraudulent Lists - The County Board of Equalization can assess double the amount of taxes that would have been owed for making a false list, and the person can potentially be charged with perjury
  • False Certifications are Misdemeanors - False certifications to statements filed with the county assessor, when made with the intent to defraud, can be punished as a misdemeanor.
  • False Tax Returns - If made with intent to evade assessment, subject to fine and jail as defined by Class A misdemeanor level below, with costs of prosecution.
  • Civil Actions to Recover Taxes, Costs, and Attorney's Fees for Evasion of Taxes - If a business owner or shipper tries to evade taxes by declaring personal property as in transit, then a civil action can be maintained by the prosecutor for all costs and attorney's fees for the tax collector.
  • Neglecting Tax Collecting Duties - County assessors, tax collectors, and other officers who knowingly neglect their tax assessment duties are liable for a fine of between $10 and $1,000 and may be removed from office.
  • Sales & Use Tax Violations - Any person or corporation found to have violated the Sales & Use Tax section, for example by intentionally failing to file a return or pay a tax or filing a false return, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Tax Fraud or Evasion - If tax fraud or evasion is discovered, the tax collector will add 25% of the total defrauded amount, in addition, as a penalty.

Although many crimes must be prosecuted within a specific period of time, called the statute of limitations, there's no time limit for when Missouri can pursue tax fraud. This means even tax fraud committed in the distant past can come back to bite you.

Standard Jail and Fine Schedule

Punishments for felonies and misdemeanors in Missouri vary by class. When a corporation is the defendant, it can be significantly fined, especially if a special fine is permitted by law. The penalty ranges for tax evasion are listed below:

  • Class A misdemeanor - jail for one year or less and up to a $1,000 fine, or $5,000 fine if a corporation
  • Class B misdemeanor - jail for up to 6 months and up to a $500 fine or $2,000 fine for corporations
  • Class C misdemeanor - jail for up to 15 days and up to a $300 fine or $1,000 fine for corporations
  • Infraction - no jail and up to a $200 fine or $500 fine for corporations

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- it's important to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Dealing with any criminal or administrative charge is often a trying experience. If you find yourself facing a tax fraud related issue, you should contact an experienced Missouri tax attorney for assistance.

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Missouri Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion Laws: Related Resources

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