Unfiled Tax Returns: What Do You Do? (Part 2)

by McNair Law Firm, P.A.
Contact

The United States has a voluntary income tax reporting system.  U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and businesses here must annually file income tax returns with the IRS, reporting their “worldwide income”, deductions, and their “net taxable income”, and pay income taxes to the IRS based on this amount.  The rate of tax is “progressive”; that is, it increases as taxable income goes up.  There is a minimum level of income for which an annual tax return is not required to be filed and which varies on filing status.  For example, in 2016 for a single (unmarried) taxpayer, the individual must generally have at least $10,350 to require a return to be filed for the year.  Even if an individual or business has only income they believe may be “exempt” from income tax (e.g. certain social security payments, interest in municipal bonds, etc.), a tax return must still be filed.

Penalties and interest for not filing a required tax return can be substantial and can exceed “credit card rates.” None of the penalties or interest owed on a federal tax debt are deductible.

If an individual has received income from third parties, such as wages or salaries (Form W-2) or dividend, interest, property sale proceeds, or contractor payments (form 1099), the IRS receives this information.  If an individual has not filed a tax return reporting this income, the IRS computer system will identify this non-reporting and begin to send a series of notices to the taxpayer notifying them to file.  If a return is not then filed, the IRS will prepare a “Substitute for Return” – a default assessment – and then the taxpayer will get a tax notice due bill – that come with penalties and interest.  A “Substitute for Return,” however, is not a voluntary tax return, and the associated tax liability cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Finally, not filing a tax return where an individual or business has sufficient income is a crime – “willfully failing to file.” Both the IRS and state departments of revenue prosecute taxpayers for not filing. This is about going prison at this point – and, the taxes will also be due. Increased penalties may also apply where not filing is considered to be “fraudulent.” Simply not filing a tax return can also be a more serious felony, such as tax evasion, where in addition to not filing, a taxpayer does other “affirmative acts” to evade taxes, such as filing a Form W-4 with his or her employer claiming to be exempt from tax withholding or transferring or hiding assets.

If a tax return is due but has not been filed, care must be taken on how to address the issue.  The IRS has a “voluntary disclosure” program that may be uniquely suited to these situations, and some states offer “tax amnesty” programs for delinquent-filers.  Any individual with unfiled returns must speak with a tax professional to understand their options.

 

The United States has a voluntary income tax reporting system.  U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and businesses here must annually file income tax returns with the IRS, reporting their “worldwide income”, deductions, and their “net taxable income”, and pay income taxes to the IRS based on this amount.  The rate of tax is “progressive”; that is, it increases as taxable income goes up.  There is a minimum level of income for which an annual tax return is not required to be filed and which varies on filing status.  For example, in 2016 for a single (unmarried) taxpayer, the individual must generally have at least $10,350 to require a return to be filed for the year.  Even if an individual or business has only income they believe may be “exempt” from income tax (e.g. certain social security payments, interest in municipal bonds, etc.), a tax return must still be filed.

Penalties and interest for not filing a required tax return can be substantial and can exceed “credit card rates.” None of the penalties or interest owed on a federal tax debt are deductible.

If an individual has received income from third parties, such as wages or salaries (Form W-2) or dividend, interest, property sale proceeds, or contractor payments (form 1099), the IRS receives this information.  If an individual has not filed a tax return reporting this income, the IRS computer system will identify this non-reporting and begin to send a series of notices to the taxpayer notifying them to file.  If a return is not then filed, the IRS will prepare a “Substitute for Return” – a default assessment – and then the taxpayer will get a tax notice due bill – that come with penalties and interest.  A “Substitute for Return,” however, is not a voluntary tax return, and the associated tax liability cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Finally, not filing a tax return where an individual or business has sufficient income is a crime – “willfully failing to file.” Both the IRS and state departments of revenue prosecute taxpayers for not filing. This is about going prison at this point – and, the taxes will also be due. Increased penalties may also apply where not filing is considered to be “fraudulent.” Simply not filing a tax return can also be a more serious felony, such as tax evasion, where in addition to not filing, a taxpayer does other “affirmative acts” to evade taxes, such as filing a Form W-4 with his or her employer claiming to be exempt from tax withholding or transferring or hiding assets.

If a tax return is due but has not been filed, care must be taken on how to address the issue.  The IRS has a “voluntary disclosure” program that may be uniquely suited to these situations, and some states offer “tax amnesty” programs for delinquent-filers.  Any individual with unfiled returns must speak with a tax professional to understand their options.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© McNair Law Firm, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

McNair Law Firm, P.A.
Contact
more
less

McNair Law Firm, P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.