How Long is the Tax Fraud Statute of Limitations?

The question of how much time the government has to pursue tax fraud (also known as the statute of limitations) is often misunderstood.

It is important to note that the indefinite or unlimited fraud statute refers to civil tax fraud, not criminal tax matters. The IRS basically has unlimited time to audit you for civil fraud.

But due to the fact that evidence loses value over time and memories fade, when it comes criminal tax fraud, the enforcement period generally is six years.

The statute of limitations is delayed (or paused) from running in certain circumstances. For example, if a person who committed a federal tax crime is outside of the United States or is fleeing from justice, the statute of limitations does not run during that time.

Unlike civil tax fraud, with criminal tax fraud, the government must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Also unlike civil tax fraud, the IRS does not enforce criminal tax matters, rather they refer the matter to the Department of Justice, which then pursues the case in federal court.

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