Do You Think That People Who Fail to File Tax Returns Should be Punished by Somebody Other Than The IRS?

Posted on September 09, 2014

In a recent opinion, the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands disqualified a Senator from running for reelection because she did not file her federal income tax returns and had already been convicted of that crime. 

The Supreme Court held that the Senator’s failure to file tax returns is a crime involving moral turpitude which rendered her ineligible to seek reelection for her seat.  Failing to file a tax return is a misdemeanor tax crime and is punishable by up to one year in prison.

The United States Department of Justice typically prosecutes tax crimes, often at the recommendation of the IRS.  However, third parties, such as the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands as discussed above, can further punish individuals for failing to file tax returns.

For example, an attorney in Illinois can be punished by the Illinois Supreme Court through the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for failing to file tax returns.  The punishment can include censure, suspension or disbarment.  This punishment is in addition to and separate from any punishment a Judge may impose in a criminal proceeding.

Do you think that third party agencies should be able to punish a taxpayer for failing to file tax returns in addition to the punishment imposed by the crime itself?

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