Do Not Have To File Returns? Killer Discussion
Do Not Have to File Returns? The Law And Some Relevant Case Law To Educate You!
Some argue that taxpayers may refuse to file federal income tax returns, or may submit tax returns on which they refuse to provide any financial information, because they believe that their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination will be violated.The Law: There is no constitutional right to refuse to file an income tax return on the ground that it violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In United States v. Sullivan, 274 U.S. 259, 264 (1927), the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the taxpayer “could not draw a conjurer’s circle around the whole matter by his own declaration that to write any word upon the government blank would bring him into danger of the law.” The failure to comply with the filing and reporting requirements of the federal tax laws will not be excused based upon blanket assertions of the constitutional privilege against compelled self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.The IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2005-19, 2005-1 C.B. 819, which discusses this frivolous argument in more detail, warning taxpayers of the consequences of attempting to pursue a claim on these grounds.
Relevant Case Law:
Sochia v. Commissioner, 23 F.3d 941 (5th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1153 (1995) – the court affirmed tax assessments and penalties for failure to file returns, failure to pay taxes, and filing a frivolous return. The court also imposed sanctions for pursuing a frivolous case. The taxpayershad failed to provide any information on their tax return about income and expenses, instead claiming a Fifth Amendment privilege on each line calling for financial information.United States v. Neff, 615 F.2d 1235, 1241 (9th Cir. 1980), cert. denied, 447 U.S. 925 (1980) – the court affirmed a failure to file conviction, noting that the taxpayer “did not show that his response to the tax form questions would have been self-incriminating. He cannot, therefore, prevail on his Fifth Amendment claim.”United States v. Schiff, 612 F.2d 73, 83 (2d Cir. 1979) – the court said that “the Fifth Amendment privilege does not immunize all witnesses from testifying. Only those who assert as to each particular question that the answer to that question would tend to incriminate them are protected . . . .[T]he questions in the income tax return are neutral on their face . . . [h]ence privilege may not be claimed against all disclosure on an income tax return.”United States v. Brown, 600 F.2d 248, 252 (10th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 917 (1979) – noting that the Supreme Court had established “that the self-incrimination privilege can be employed to protect the taxpayer from revealing the information as to an illegal source of income, but does not protect him from disclosing the amount of his income,” the court said Brown made “an illegal effort to stretch the Fifth Amendment to include a taxpayer who wishes to avoid filing a return.”United States v. Daly, 481 F.2d 28, 30 (8th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1064 (1973) – the court affirmed a failure to file conviction, rejecting the taxpayer’s Fifth Amendment claim because of his “error in . . . his blanket refusal to answer any questions on the returns relating to his income or expenses.”