Will I Go to Jail for Not Paying My Taxes?

Free Case Evaluation
taxes sheet

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is a United States government agency that decides on and enforces federal tax laws. Every year qualifying citizens must file their taxes to determine if they paid too many taxes, too little taxes, or just the right amount in the past year. If you paid too much you will get a check reimbursement. If you paid too little, however, you will have to pay the government what you owe. Not paying your taxes can come with some severe consequences. For further information and assistance contact a Mercer County white collar crime lawyer.

Who Has to File Taxes?

Does a 16 year old with a seasonal job scooping ice cream have to file taxes? Or a 70 year old with a part-time job? Whether or not you have to file a tax return depends on your filing status, age, and income. The following is a list of general guidelines to determine whether or not you are required to file a tax return by your filing status and how much income you made last year.


  • Under the age of 65: $13,850
  • 65 years or older: $15,700

Married, filing jointly:

  • If both spouses are under the age of 65: $27,700
  • If one spouse is under the age of 65 and one is 65 or older: $29,200
  • If both spouses are 65 or older: $30,700

Married, filing separately:

  • Under the age of 65: $5
  • 65 years or older: $5

Head of household:

  • Under the age of 65: $20,800
  • 65 years or older: $22,650

Qualifying widow or widower:

  • Under the age of 65: $27,700
  • 65 years or older: $29,200

Is Not Paying Your Taxes a Crime?

Tax evasion is a federal crime punishable by severe fines and even jail time. However, the IRS will generally not send you to jail immediately for not paying your taxes.

If you do not pay your taxes on time you will begin to accrue penalties in the form of fines and interest on the taxes that you owe. The IRS will send you a bill informing you of your lateness and detailing the amount that you owe including the interest that has accumulated. If you ignore this bill there are other ways that the IRS will collect the money you owe including seizing assets.

What Should I Do if I Can’t Pay My Taxes?

If you filed a tax return and owe money to the government that you cannot afford to pay, do not panic. There are ways to lessen the amount you owe and payment plans you can set up to ensure you are not breaking any laws or breaking the bank.

You can set up a payment or installment plan online. There is a short-term plan where you can pay over the course of a 120 day period. If you require a longer payment plan you can request one with the IRS.

If the IRS evaluates your financial situation and agrees that you cannot pay the amount owed even through a payment plan, you can be given an offer in compromise. This is essentially an agreement between you and the IRS that lowers the dollar amount they consider you to owe.

Read Our
Latest Blogs

See all our blogs
person typing on computer keyboard

What Are the Best Defenses Against Computer Crimes?

Strong defenses are necessary in computer crimes cases. Read on and speak with an attorney today to ...

Read More
stalking woman with binoculars

Is Stalking a Crime in New Jersey?

Click to learn how stalking is a crime in New Jersey and the various associated penalties. Contact a...

Read More
See all our blogs