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What Makes a Failure to File Your Tax Returns a Felony? by SANDRA BROWN

As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For any U.S. citizen or resident with annual income in excess of a statutorily determined amount, the requirement to file a tax return is not only certain, but is a legal obligation. Contrary to popular myth, the filing of a federal tax return is not voluntary.” It is mandatory.4 Moreover, the intentional (willful) failure to file a required tax return is a crime. Because it is a crime, it is punishable by jail time. So, while the penalties and fines associated with the failure to file tax returns can be extremely costly even in the civil context, where the failure to file a required tax return is done willfully, it can also result in a loss of one’s liberty and freedom, e.g., prison time. Case in point is a criminal tax case filed earlier this year by the United States against Daryl Brown.

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