With tax day fast approaching once again, many Florida residents are scrambling to get their federal taxes done in time. At this time of year, you and many other American taxpayers may be wondering what happens if you miss that deadline and fail to file your taxes at all. Perhaps it is simply a matter of curiosity, or it may be that you have not filed a tax return in the past and have been bracing yourself for quite some time, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
In the latter case, it is important to understand that failing to file a tax return can have very serious consequences - but there is hope. By taking careful, proactive steps to address your tax problems before they escalate, it may be possible to keep the negative repercussions to a minimum.
Could I go to jail?
In some cases, failure to file a tax return is treated as a criminal tax offense that can lead to jail time and costly fines for those who are convicted. Specifically, if you are convicted of willful failure to file tax returns, you could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and fined up to $25,000.
The penalties for failing to file tax returns apply separately for each year of unfiled taxes, which means that the penalties could be multiplied if you go more than one year without filing.
Even in less severe cases, the consequences of failing to file a tax return can be very costly due to penalties and interest on the money owed, both of which become larger as time goes on.
A proactive approach
Generally speaking, the negative repercussions of failing to file tax returns are likely to be less if you take steps to resolve the problem proactively, rather than ignoring the issue until the IRS comes after you.
Before taking any steps on your own to resolve an outstanding tax issue, however, it is important that you talk things over with an attorney who is experienced in both tax law and criminal defense matters. Likewise, you should be sure to seek legal help as soon as possible if you are already facing the threat of criminal prosecution due to unfiled tax returns.
If you are behind on your taxes and concerned about potential criminal liability, there are programs available to help you get back on track and avoid some of the most serious consequences that you could be facing. A skilled tax criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the options that are available to you based on your specific circumstances, and will help you weigh the risks and benefits of each course of action. For more information, contact the Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz to discuss the specific circumstances of your situation.