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Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Your Taxes?

If you have fallen behind on filing your taxes, you might be getting nervous. Can you go to jail for not paying your taxes? Is there an investigator working on your case somewhere in the background, just adding charges as you fall further and further behind? It is possible to go to jail for not paying your taxes, but it’s actually unlikely. Criminal charges are a possibility though, and you might end up needing the help of a Des Moines criminal defense lawyer.

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What Are the Potential Punishments For Not Paying Your Taxes?

If criminal charges are filed against you, the punishment for not paying your taxes can be jailed. You can also be charged civilly for the same tax crimes. This usually means fines.

Tax evasion can land you in jail for up to five years. Failing to file a return can result in one year of prison time for each year you didn’t file. You can also be jailed if you help someone get out of paying their taxes. If you are going to be criminally charged for these tax crimes, the IRS must take action within six years.

What’s the Difference Between Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion?

There is a big difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is legal. This is when you take actions that can lower your tax bill while acting within the law. You could avoid taxes by taking deductions that you are entitled to or by establishing a business with more favorable taxation terms.

Tax evasion is different. This is when you try to cheat the system and pay less than what you owe in taxes. Lying about your income, for example, can cause some legal troubles.

What If You Can’t Afford to Pay Your Taxes?

Not paying your taxes because you cannot afford to pay them can be a different situation, but you still need to take action and act in good faith. If you file your tax return and find that you do not have enough money to pay what you owe, there are options. You can make a payment plan or settle with the IRS to pay a compromise amount in some cases.

The IRS has few problems with people who file and realize they cannot pay. Tax collectors take more issue with someone who does not file at all.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Many tax issues can be avoided by dealing with the IRS directly. If your situation is really complicated, talking to a CPA or tax attorney might be necessary. Unless you are actually facing criminal charges, you shouldn’t need the help of a defense attorney.

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If you have any more questions, contact Herting Law, PLLC. Whether you need clarification about tax laws or you are already facing criminal charges, we are ready to assist you.

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