Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Your Taxes?



    handcuffs person behind bars

    Many people dread filing their federal income tax returns each year due to the paperwork involved. Sometimes, individuals dread it so much that they avoid filing their taxes altogether. This issue may have arisen due to a simple oversight, such as forgetting to pay income taxes one year. However, this oversight may have snowballed into several years of unfiled taxes, causing individuals to fear filing due to what they owe. Consequently, many individuals question the legal ramifications they could face for failing to pay their taxes. Please continue reading to learn whether you can face jail time for not paying your taxes and how our dedicated Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorneys can help you navigate your legal options. 

    What Can the IRS Send You to Jail for?

    People commonly worry that they will spend time behind bars because they can’t pay their taxes. However, it’s crucial to understand that you can’t go to jail for not having enough money to pay your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reserves criminal prosecution for those guilty of tax fraud and tax evasion. These criminal offenses will result in more severe penalties than late fees. The IRS is more lenient regarding people who file their taxes but can’t pay, as opposed to those who don’t file or pay. Therefore, you won’t face jail time for not being able to pay your taxes if you file your return.

    Nevertheless, tax fraud, tax evasion, failure to file, and helping someone evade their taxes are all actions that can land you in jail. Tax fraud encompasses several tax law violations. This occurs when a person intentionally fails to pay the taxes they owe. Essentially, they are defrauding the government. Tax fraud also happens when you knowingly file a false return. Tax evasion, on the other hand, occurs when a person knowingly and intentionally deceives the IRS to evade a tax assessment. This can include transferring assets to someone else to prevent the IRS from determining your tax liability, underreporting income, claiming false deductions, falsifying documents, or concealing money you could use to pay your taxes.

    Furthermore, you can also face jail time for helping someone get out of paying their taxes. When you help someone evade their tax liability, you become an accessory to their crime. Therefore, the federal government can hold you responsible, even though you didn’t commit the crime. Depending on the situation, you could face imprisonment for up to five years for not paying your taxes.

    If you’re facing criminal charges for not paying your taxes, please don’t hesitate to contact a proficient attorney from Grunwald & Seman, P.C., who can tirelessly fight to protect your rights and freedom.

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