What If I Don't Feel Like Filing?

Christopher Beam explores the potential evader's options
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2009 2:08 PM CDT
Illinois Department of Revenue assistant Heather Charlton processes Illinois 1040 forms at the Illinois Department of Revenue in Springfield, Ill., Monday April 16, 2007.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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(Newser) – With millions of Americans enduring long lines at the post office today to file their tax returns, Christopher Beam of Slate can’t help wonder: What would happen if you simply didn’t file? The answer is probably not much—7 million Americans declined to file last year, and only 158,000 of them were investigated—although certain factors increase your chances of being an IRS target.

Self-employed or unemployed individuals have the best chances of flying under the radar, because there's no chance of a discrepancy between a business’ employee income filings and the employee’s tax return. If you’re going to evade, it’s best to go whole hog—it’s better never to file than to run up a red flag by paying for a few years and stopping. Keep in mind that there’s no statute of limitations on civil penalties for tax evasion. And don’t try it at all if you’re famous. Just ask Wesley Snipes.