Staying Out of Jail and How Your Tax Attorney Can Help

When I meet with a new client for the first time I understand they are afraid. They are scared of losing their property. Maybe they have not filed their tax returns for a few years, or they simply don’t have the funds to pay what they owe. The biggest question on their mind is “Will I go to jail?”

My answer is: Take a deep breath and know that many options are available.

It is not a crime to owe the IRS money.

However, failing to file is a crime. The law states that one year of jail time can be required for each year taxes aren’t filed. Tax evasion is a federal offense. Therefore, sentencing on such cases can be influenced by the Guidelines established by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. These “Guidelines” list every possible federal violation and rank them in a way in which the larger offenses are more heavily penalized than the smaller offenses. So owing the IRS $5,000 would not be punished as harshly as owing them $250,000. However, this manual is only a guideline and judges are allowed to take liberties with what the text suggests.

Each case is different. A person may be sentenced to community service, probation, or home confinement rather than jail. Probation is when the offender is ordered to follow certain rules and conditions established by the court and the offender is often supervised by a probation officer. These conditions may include providing the probation officer open access to computer files, state and federal tax returns, bank accounts and any other investments or financial transactions. “Home confinement” refers to being forced to stay in one’s home or specified location instead of jail. The offender may only leave the location under strict circumstances such as a medical emergency.

You may feel like the “underdog” when up against the powerful force of the IRS.

That’s understandable. But this is what I love doing the most- taking on the IRS and helping the little guy win! Together we can devise a plan that results in a positive outcome for you, a way to clean up past regrets and give you a clean slate for the future. The best way to ensure staying out of jail is to be cooperative and honest with the IRS. If a person can demonstrate he is taking responsibility for his situation and working towards a solution, the IRS and the courts will tend to be more understanding. I work with people to create this kind of practical path.

Sometimes, this path may include filing past due tax returns and/or amended tax returns. However, it is important to consult with a competent tax attorney because submitting these returns is an “admission” of the amount owed to the IRS. Another potential option is to file a Voluntary Disclosure. Under this program, the IRS offers people with undisclosed income in offshore accounts a chance to “come clean” and get current with their taxes.

The courts consider many aspects of each case when deciding an outcome. They will take into consideration the details and the nature of the situation and the history of the defendant. The judge may consider the guidelines of the sentencing commission and will compare the case to other similar cases.

There are many options available to avoid jail. But in any case it is critical to seek the advice of a knowledgeable and experienced tax attorney. Call our office today to learn how we can help with your specific case. 877-254-4254