Many of my clients voice a fear that many people with tax problems have – that the IRS will put them in jail for not filing their tax returns or for owing back taxes.
Based upon the amount of raw power the IRS has, and their reputation for having the willingness to use that power – fear of the IRS and of being put in jail is certainly not unreasonable. The facts speak for themselves, the IRS has put taxpayers in jail. The IRS even put a man who I was acquainted with into federal prison.
They always have a jail cell ready for wise guys
This man was not a client of mine, and he had not sought me out for legal advice. If he had done so, there are no facts I am aware of which lead me to believe that he would have been sent to jail. Unfortunately he chose not to hire a tax attorney. He also had another mark against him, he was a smart aleck. He defiantly refused to cooperate in any way with the IRS Collection Officers. He conducted himself in an arrogant manner toward them, and they finally got tired of it. He was given the opportunity to learn humility – all expenses paid by Uncle Sam.
Most taxpayers are their own worst enemies when dealing with the IRS. What I mean is that they either act like scared rabbits with the IRS and never really seek to know what their options to solve their problem. Or they refuse to comply on any meaningful manner and thus irritate the IRS personnel.
A tax professional may help move you toward being in tax compliance
– and away from jail
Having an experienced tax professional to represent you may be your best defense to avoid jail time. What a tax attorney offers a taxpayer is the ability to assist them to know all of their options are in dealing with the tax problem (including ones that other tax professionals can legally discuss). We can help calm down irrate Collection Officers, and get the case moving forward again. We move our clients toward actually solving their problem, through the use of strategies which are best for our clients, not for the IRS. We can often get our clients a valuable commodity – a little more time.
We have NEVER had a single client who has gone to jail, or who the IRS has even threatened with jail. Why? I believe it is because we are always attempting to move the case forward to a reasonable solution, and the IRS Collection Officers know it. That does NOT mean that we are working to please the IRS. What it means is that if the client is being assisted by us toward a solution which fits the facts of their individual case, then there is nothing for the IRS to disagree with.
Attorney – Client Privilege may be very important to you
No other type tax professional – not a CPA or an Enrolled Agent tax preparer – offers the level of “client privilege” that an attorney can offer. Only an attorney can have “Attorney-Client privilege” with his clients. The attorney’s confidentiality rule is vastly better than the “confidentiality privilege” allowed other types of representatives. This can be VERY important. Why? Because unlike an attorney, virtually anything you tell a CPA or tax preparer must be revealed if those types of representatives are subpoenaed by the Feds.
If you do ever become a target of Federal prosecution, the Feds would love to be able to subpoena your CPA or tax preparer to testify against you in court. Whether they want to or not, the CPA or tax preparer will have to sing like a bird and tell all they know, regardless of whether you want them to or not. An attorney is very different.
Our office’s track record?
– Not a single Client EVER threatened with jail or prosecuted
Merely owing taxes is not a crime. If a client has not filed his tax returns then we assist the client to accomplish that goal in a timely manner. Failure to file tax returns is a crime, its called Willful Failure to File, and it is punishable by up to one year in prison for each tax year. But we represent non-filers all the time, and have done so about a decade, and we have NEVER had a single client threatened with that charge.
Who does get prosecuted?
Federal prosecutors generally prosecute non-filers who fit into three different categories.
- Tax protestors who are unrepentant and continually refuse to file their tax returns. No matter what facts, case law, and law are shown to these folks, they just keep on vehemently spouting their misguided beliefs and thumbing their noses at the IRS.
- Smart alecks who think they know it all and who completely refuse to cooperate with the IRS. I don’t mean that they should lick the IRS’ boots – I’m talking about mere reasonable cooperation.
- High profile persons who are known in their respective communities. These persons are at high risk because the IRS may want to make an example of them for their community so as to scare the community into compliance. Is this right for the IRS to do? Probably not, but these types of non-filers often have a very arrogant attitude toward the IRS, and they, and they IRS, see this whole issue as some kind of test of wills. These folks lose sight of common sense, and they end up losing big. They need to be very careful and hire a tax pro who will assist the client to move the case forward toward tax compliance, and away from a jail cell.
What can you do to reduce your chances of being prosecuted
What is the one rule all taxpayers should never forget? ALWAYS file your tax returns on time – EVEN if you don’t have the money to pay the tax! Why?
- Remember – its not a crime to owe the IRS, just a crime to not file the tax returns.
- Also, if you file your tax return, even if you owe taxes, it prevents a large penalty from being applied – the failure to file penalty.
If you are owe back taxes, or are a non-filer, why don’t you give me a call. I’ve helped taxpayers all across America – just like you. You have nothing to lose – it’s a FREE Consultation.
Why not get on with the rest of your life, get a good night’s sleep, and stop worrying about the Feds coming after you!