I am still amazed about how many people call us or come into our office having not filed their taxes for multiple prior years. Some people file for an extension ever year at tax time, while others work feverishly to get them done by April 15th. What happens if you don’t file your taxes?
Obviously, we don’t ever recommend using this as a strategy. As the famous saying goes, the only thing you can count on in life are death and taxes. Beyond the interest you will owe for failure to file/failure to pay/underpayment issues, there could also be a number of penalties that you could face as well.
- Criminal Fraud – Unless you want the old Wesley Snipes issue, evading pay taxes is illegal anyway that you slice it up. It’s my opinion that the IRS is going to get even tougher on these non-taxpayers, and if you are found guilty you could be subject to massive court determined fines, jail time, or possibly both.
- Civil Fraud – If for some reason you don’t quite rise to the whole tax evasion issue, you could be subject to civil fraud. According to www.irs.gov, the penalty is 75% of the portion of the tax underpayment attributable to fraud.
- Negligence – The next really difficult question to answer is really around whether or not you intended to defraud the IRS or really were you just neglecting filing the taxes. In this case the penalty is 20% of the portion of the underpayments attributable to the negligence. (www.irs.gov)
- A Frivolous Return – Some people think it’s cute to be a court jester with the IRS. In these difficult economic times, some taxpayers may protest the IRS by making their job more difficult than it should be. Generally, a frivolous return may omit information that makes it necessary to determine a taxpayer’s liability such as their Social Security number. There can be a fine imposed of $500 per frivolous return.
No matter how many years you are behind, filing taxes is like saving for retirement. It’s never too late to start. Get all of your tax documents together, and get yourself down to a good tax preparer to being sorting through the mess. It’s either get them done, or one day you could find yourself doing jail time. That doesn’t sound like a smart money move!
This material is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or a tax advisor. Before making any financial commitment regarding the issues discussed here, consult with the appropriate professional advisor.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
oXYGen Financial, Inc. co-CEO Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice and Smart Money Moves to the X and Y Generation.
Phone 1.800.355.9318 or 770.777.0427
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