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Failing to file: what happens when you don't send in your return?

When February turns to March and March turns to April, everyone starts thinking about their taxes. Those months have come and gone this year, but in the build-up to Tax Day, it is understandable for many taxpayers to think "yikes, I wish I could just not file taxes!" It's straight out of a dream, but unfortunately, every year, you have to file your taxes.

But, purely for discussion, what would happen if you really didn't file your taxes one year? Actually, many people do this even though they are well aware of their obligations. Some people do it because they are afraid to file and afraid of the repercussions. Some people don't file because of their anti-government sentiments. Some people file because of a medical emergency or condition that prevented them from filing.

Let's limit this discussion to people who knowingly and willingly don't file their taxes. The first thing to note is that this can be considered a criminal offense. Now, should you later come forward to the IRS about your filing, it is unlikely they would pursue criminal charges so long as you are willing to work with them and cooperate. If they were to throw you in jail, it would make it harder for the IRS to collect from you.

If you don't come forward, then the worse your negligence is the more likely the IRS is to pursue charges. It may take them a long time, but they will eventually find out about your failure to file.

Source: FindLaw, "What to Expect If You Don't Pay Your Taxes," Accessed May 11, 2016

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