Q: I owe back taxes to the IRS. Am I going to go to prison?
A: Just owing back taxes simply because you cannot afford to pay them is not a criminal offense. There is no possibility of prison. However, if you have actively done something to evade paying your taxes, commonly known as tax evasion, then there is a possibility that you may be criminally prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Also, it is a Federal criminal misdemeanor to fail to file your income tax returns. People have been prosecuted for this. But, if you get your past due tax returns filed now, the IRS will usually forgive your prior failure to file. Talk to a tax attorney about whether your particular situation brings up any criminal concerns. CAUTION. YOU MUST ONLY TALK TO AN ATTORNEY ABOUT CRIMINAL CONCERNS. By law, when you talk to an attorney everything that you say is strictly confidential and under most circumstances cannot be divulged to other parties including the IRS. This kind of legal confidentiality is not available to you if you talk to a CPA or an enrolled agent about your problems. Contact Attorney Sheldon Lazarow, now, to discuss any concerns you might have about criminal prosecution. He can be reached at 520-623-5856.