By law, you have certain rights and obligations with respect to paying your federal taxes and dealing with the IRS.1Internal Revenue Code Note: rights as to paying state taxes vary by state.Tax pig with money dollars


What happens if I don’t pay my taxes or I don’t report all my income?

You could be charged with a felony for tax evasion, with a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 5 years in prison!2IRC Sec 7201 So, maybe don’t do that.

Am I allowed to refuse to pay taxes in protest if I don’t like where the money is going or I don’t believe in being taxed?

Nope.3See United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, 260 (1982); Wall v. United States, 756 F.2d 52 (8th Cir. 1985) Making “frivolous tax arguments” could subject you to a penalty of at least $5,000 and up to $25,000.4Internal Revenue Code Sec 6702 and 6673(a) Or you could even be charged with tax evasion (see above).

What happens if I can’t get my taxes in on time?

You have an automatic right to file for a 6 month extension. But if you owe the government money, you will be required to pay both late fees AND interest beginning the day after tax day.

What is an “audit”?

An audit is when the IRS asks for documentation and receipts to prove all of the claims, deductions, etc. you make on your tax returns. The government generally audits a certain percentage of taxpayers each year. So even though you don’t need to send this documentation with your tax return, you should keep it in your records in case you get audited.

Can the IRS audit me for past tax years?

Yes, usually up to the last 3 tax years. But if the IRS finds a “substantial error” they can go back 6 years.

What are my rights in dealing with the IRS?

Some of your key rights as a federal taxpayer are:

1. The right to be informed by the IRS about your tax obligations
2. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax
3. The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard (within IRS administration)
4. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum (in court)
5. The right to finality
6. The right to privacy & confidentiality
7. The right to retain representation (e.g. an attorney or accountant)

(from IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights)

What should I know about taxes for freelancers or small businesses?

If you are a freelancer or small business, you actually must pay taxes 4-5 times per year, not just once. Also, your clients/customers are generally not required to withhold any taxes from your compensation, as you are responsible for dealing with taxes. But your business clients may be required to send you a “1099” each year. Check out our page on Freelancer law for more.

Does my employer need to send me a tax form?

Yes, if you are an employee, your employer must generally send you a W-2 form by Jan 31 showing the amount they paid you and the tax withheld in the prior year.


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