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Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Your Taxes?

Tax day, the day that United States citizens are required to have their taxes submitted, falls in mid-April on or around April 15th. Your accountant probably starts getting busy around January to ensure that their clients are filing on time. But what happens if you don’t file and wind up not paying your taxes? Can you be fined? Thrown in jail? Continue reading to find out more about the consequences of not paying your taxes and contact a Tehama County white collar crimes lawyer for skilled legal counsel.

When Can the IRS Send You to Jail?

After you file your taxes you may end up getting a tax return or owing the government money. You could also have paid the correct amount and therefore you owe the government nothing and they owe you nothing. If you end up owing the government taxes, not paying them is considered a federal crime. For the average person who cannot afford to pay their taxes, it is unlikely that they will go to jail. However, certain crimes can result in imprisonment.

  • Tax evasion: Tax evasion is the illegal attempt of a person or business to avoid paying their taxes that are due. This is a serious crime and if convicted you could face up to $100,000 in fines ($500,000 for corporations) and a prison sentence of up to five years.
  • Failure to file a tax return: If you do not file a tax return you will begin accumulating penalties in the form of fines. If you continue to ignore or neglect the situation you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail.
  • Filing a false tax return: Falsifying information on a tax return is a misdemeanor crime that could have people facing up to $25,000 in fines and 3 years of imprisonment.
  • Aiding tax evasion: If you help someone else avoid paying their taxes you can also be charged with a crime. You can face up to 5 years of imprisonment depending on your contributions and the situation itself.

What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford to Pay My Taxes?

If you make enough money to qualify you should file a tax return every year to be in compliance with the law and avoid trouble. But what happens if you file a tax return and end up owing a sum of money to the government that you can’t afford to pay off? This is not an uncommon occurrence in the United States, so you are not alone. There are options for you and your family to rectify the issue.

Payment plan:

  • You can work with the IRS to set up a payment plan so you can pay your taxes in installments over a designated period of time.

Offer in compromise:

  • You may be able to settle your taxes owed for less than the full amount that you are supposed to pay. The IRS will examine your financial situation to determine whether or not you are able to pay off your taxes via a payment plan. If not they may lower the amount that is considered your total balance.