What Happens If You Fail To File A Tax Return?

26 U.S.C. § 7203 addresses failure to file tax returns by those who are required to do so. Failure to file tax returns can be either a misdemeanor or a felony under this statute, which states:

Any person required under this title to pay any estimated tax or tax, or required by this title or by regulations made under authority thereof to make a return, keep any records, or supply any information, who willfully fails to pay such estimated tax or tax, make such return, keep such records, or supply such information, at the time or times required by law or regulations, shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000 ($100,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution. In the case of any person with respect to whom there is a failure to pay any estimated tax, this section shall not apply to such person with respect to such failure if there is no addition to tax under section 6654 or 6655 with respect to such failure. In the case of a willful violation of any provision of section 6050I, the first sentence of this section shall be applied by substituting "felony" for "misdemeanor" and "5 years" for "1 year".

As the statute indicates, adding the element of "willfulness" raises this federal crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. To prove willfulness, courts have said that the government must show that: (1) the law imposed a duty on the defendant; (2) the defendant knew of that duty; and (3) the defendant voluntarily and intentionally violated that duty. Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192, 201 (1990).

Contact Our Firm

The attorneys at McKellar & Easter, Attorneys at Law, have considerable experience handling a wide variety of tax-related matters, including charges that can arise because of a missed tax return. We know how to create a strong defense in these types of cases and how to ensure the protection of your constitutional rights.

To get started with your free initial telephone consultation, call 865-566-0125 or send us an email. Appointments are available at any of our three offices: Knoxville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. We accept credit cards.