When an Oklahoma taxpayer receives a notice from the IRS that he owes $10,000 or $20,000 in back taxes, he may be tempted to crumple up the letter and say, “What are they going to do, put me in jail?”
Well, yes, although you'll probably have to qualify as a habitual offender, and owe a bit more to the government, before the feds attempt to impose this drastic penalty.
Make No Mistake: If Circumstances Warrant, the IRS Will Seek to Put You in Jail
Just how flagrantly do you have to cheat on, or fail to file, your taxes before the IRS seeks to prosecute you for a white-collar crime? Here are some offenses which potentially could land you in prison:
- Failing to file your taxes for years on end, especially if you earn a significant amount of money.
- Not reporting lucrative sources of income (say, filing a return on $20,000 of declared income, but not reporting the other $500,000 you earned that year).
- Making up dependents, or fraudulently claiming significant deductions on your tax return, especially if this saves you a significant amount of money.
- Setting up a complicated and illegal scheme to avoid paying taxes (e.g., an offshore tax haven which goes against IRS rules).
- Helping other people to evade paying taxes unlawfully, as well as not paying your own (e.g., if you're a crooked accountant or a tax guru).
- Threatening or assaulting an IRS revenue officer (this wouldn't technically be a tax offense, but a felony such as attempted murder or assault and battery).
In Trouble With the IRS? Don't Let Things Spiral Out of Control
If reading the above makes you break out in a cold sweat, don't worry—the IRS reserves the most severe penalties for taxpayers whose unpaid bills amount to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. However, by the same token, you don't want to let a relatively minor offense escalate into something that lands you in a white-collar prison.
Questions? Call the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) to find out how we can help you!