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When your tax return can land you in jail

Tax returns are often viewed as a mundane task that most U.S. adults have to deal with every year. The routineness of filing a tax return can make it easy to forget how important it is to file an accurate return.

There are three common types of tax missteps that can result in serious fines and even jail time.

1) Failure to file a tax return

It is a crime to willfully fail to file your tax returns. If you are convicted of failing to file a return, you can be put in jail for up to one year, and made to pay the costs of the prosecution. Failing to file a tax return can also result in a $100,000 fine for individuals, and $200,000 fine for corporations under federal law.

2) Filing a false return

A false tax return can be fined in your name without your knowledge. Identity-theft related false tax returns are one of the biggest types of scams that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service sees, according to Fraud Magazine. False returns are filed by thieves who file tax returns for other people to obtain their refunds. This often happens when the thieves find identifiable information from the victim, such as one's social security number, employment records, and addresses.

A related type of type of false tax return occurs when someone files a return but fails to include all of one's income. Knowingly providing false statements on a tax return can result in three years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for individuals, according to the IRS.

3) Failing to supply information

In addition to false statements, it is also a crime to fail to supply information and keep records required under the law. The fine for failing to supply information is up to $100,000 for individuals and imprisonment for up to one year.

Your legal rights in tax crime cases

An experienced tax attorney can assist individuals who have been accused of a tax crime. Whether you have been a victim of identity-theft or failed to accurately pay your taxes, a lawyer can explain your options and how to best move forward with your case.

Tax cases have strict deadlines to respond to the IRS. That is why it is important to speak with an attorney as early as possible in order to ensure that you protect your rights.

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