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Possible consequences for failing to file income tax return

There are many reasons why someone might fail to file a federal income tax return. According to one statistic, approximately 5 percent do not fulfill this obligation each year. That’s the equivalent of around 7 million taxpayers. Whatever the reason behind failing to file, the Internal Revenue Service has one objective—to get what it is owed. Accordingly, it is not afraid to aggressively pursue those who are delinquent in filing their return.

Individuals who do not file a tax return when they are due could face several consequences including collection actions, penalties and criminal charges.

Dealing with collections can put a great amount of stress upon the person facing the issue. Calls and letters from collections agents can be difficult to handle.

The penalties that may be assessed can put a taxpayer in an even more stressful position. This is because the late fee and penalty rate for a late return can be exorbitant. When both are considered in conjunction with interest, the effective annual rate could be more than 75 percent.

While less common, criminal charges against taxpayers who fail to file income tax returns are sometimes filed. The average individual is usually not at high risk for this occurring. In general, members of certain groups have a higher likelihood of facing these charges, than others. These groups include:

  • Professionals with a high income.
  • Drug dealers.
  • Politicians.
  • Organized crime figures.
  • Tax protesters.

In most cases involving tax matters it is best to address the issue sooner rather than later. Usually the best approach is to work with a lawyer who handles tax cases.

Source: Forbes, “7 Million Taxpayers Fail To File Their Income Taxes,” Robert E. McKenzie, Aug. 27, 2014

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Law Offices of Robert T. Leonard, APC

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