Lawyer Blogger

Can I Go to Jail For Not Paying My Taxes?

jail for not paying taxes

Taxes are a significant revenue source for most states. Therefore, tax payment and filing returns are regarded as patriotic obligations and constitutional responsibilities by most countries. In retrospect, tax-evading is identified as an intentional and illegal attempt to avoid the evaluation, evasion, or paying of duty levied by the authority. Most countries have constitutional acts, agencies, and bodies to oversee and enforce (if necessary) taxpayers’ compliance with these federal laws. Admittedly, purposeful avoidance of your excise payment is a criminal offense with serious legal ramifications which you can go to jail for. Below is an outlook on some of the state’s tax acts and penalties:


The United States by far has the highest volitional conformity rate of taxpayers raking up an impressive 84%- this, however, is not to say that their levy statutes are lenient whatsoever. Under Section 7201 of the American Federal Law, any person that deliberately tries to dodge duties levied by the federal administration is culpable of a felony and stands to face legal repercussions. Individuals and corporations proven to elude exercise by the court are eligible for a fine of about $100,000 and $500,000, respectively, not to mention a jail sentence of up to 5 years.

For the court to pass a fair conviction under the violation of the United States of America Tax legislation, the prosecutor will have to prove the following:

  • The actuality of a valid tax shortfall- provide proof of an unsettled excise.
  • Affirmatively prove acts of evasion by the corporate or individual and their attempt to avoid evaluation or payment of stipulated duty.
  • Premeditation – The individual’s or corporate’s conscious infringement of a known constitutional responsibility.
  • Possession of a genuine belief that one is not violating tax codes over the misinterpretation of its complexity.
  • A belief by the individual or corporate that the annual income duty is void or unconstitutional.


Evasion of tax in Canada is defined as ignoring the Canadian tax code; this could be from not filing tax returns to the inaccurate declaration of and fraudulent expenses claims on your tax returns. The Canadian administration is no different when it comes to upholding tax payment, with tax evasion charges falling under the Criminal Code of Canada. Most Canadians willingly file their tax returns on time; however, there is a percentage of individuals and corporates that avoid taxation. The Canadian state recognizes tax-evading as a criminal offense punishable by prison time and hefty financial penalties.

According to Section 238 of the federal Income Tax Act, ignoring tax codes and failing to lodge returns carries a charge between $1000 to $25,000 as well as a jail sentence of one year. Section 230 of the Income Tax Act identifies tax evasion penalties as a conviction of up to 2 years and a fine about half to twice the sum one was trying to save by cheating on taxes. The Canadian authority has a mandated body, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), whose sole purpose is to probe and ward off excise frauds and remit litigation to Canada’s Public Prosecution Service (PPO).


The state of Australia recognizes tax-evading as any action taken by an individual or corporate to avoid the evaluation of tax– this can be anything from failing to lodge simple returns to helping someone elude taxes. The constitution in Australia is quite definite and cut out as to what comprises criminal tax offenses. In Australia, the tax-free threshold stands at $18,500; individuals earning pay above this bracket must pay tax. Tax evasion in Australia can land you in prison for about five years, and it also carries possible financial penalties and prosecution.

The Commonwealth legislation states duty cheating, tax delusion, conspiracy to defraud, and obtaining financial advantage as taxation offenses. An individual or corporate owner can be convicted for lodging fraudulent duty returns and incorrect business activity statements for up to 10 years in Australia. It is, therefore, every taxpayer’s obligation to understand the Australian tax legislation and get proper legal advice whenever they feel inept. The Australian Taxation Office is tasked with zeroing in on excise frauds and building significant investigations for prosecution. On the flip side, the Australian federal authority permits Individual Installment Agreements and Offer in Compromise if one lags on tax payment.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has definite tax laws with a broad description. Statistically, the U.K. records a little over 1000 convictions yearly over excise elusion, which the federal government defines as the intentional non-payment of duty or rather a duty to HMRC. The most frequent duty evasion instances in the United Kingdom fall under conscious concealment of earnings, intentional understating of one’s remuneration, overstating one’s revenue, and failing to notify HMRC of any taxable yields. Typically, the U.K.’s tax evasion cases are handled by HMRC’s civil procedure, where the accused will most likely face prosecution.

Tax cheating in the U.K. is no different from other countries; the federal government recognizes it as a criminal act with serious legal ramifications. The average sentence for dodging taxes in the United Kingdom is two years and seven months to a maximum of seven years in prison. Consequences for evading taxes are not exclusively tied to jail time as one can face a fine of up to 20,000 Euros. However, the stipulated penalties for excise eluding remain variable as different offenses get different jail terms. For instance, prosecution for earnings tax avoidance will have one face prison time for six months to seven years or a fine of about 5,000 Euros. In contrast, VAT evasion penalties would give you six months to seven years, including unlimited fines. On the other hand, the criminal charge for cheating on public revenue in the U.K. carries a life in prison sentence in addition to unlimited fines, while giving false documentation during a tax appraisal will land you in prison for six months with a fine of up to 20,000 Euros. Similar to U.K. residents wondering “can I refuse Jury service if I’m unemployed“, you can in fact get in quite a bit of trouble if you’re not following the law!

Taxes are an integral part of every country’s economy. Most governments can create and community-benefitting schemes and projects through the taxes paid by their citizens. Failure to pay taxes is equal to depriving your government and society at large of an opportunity for growth and investment. In several countries, duty evasion qualifies as a criminal charge carrying severe penalties; many governments have created bodies and agencies to oversee levy payment on a nation-wide scale. Even with some states being more lenient than others, some taxpayers will always be involuntary about paying their dues to the federal administration. Regardless, it is due diligence to be up to date on your tax payment as an eligible citizen to avoid having a criminal brush with the law.


For other similar postings, make sure to check out our criminal law category


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts