The headline reads “People Jailed for Owing Less Taxes than Al Sharpton” That is absolutely false. All of the people mentioned in the article were convicted and jailed for committing tax fraud, not for just owing taxes. Unlike willful tax evasion, owing taxes is not a criminal offense. The IRS has authority to do many things to a delinquent taxpayer such as, levying wages and bank accounts, or even seizing assets but they cannot send you to jail simply for owing taxes. Mr. Sharpton once pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for failing to file a state tax return, but he has not been convicted in court of tax evasion.
What if you receive a notice from the IRS that you owe back taxes? You should never ignore such a notice because the longer you procrastinate in dealing with the issue, the more serious your consequences can become. You should respond promptly to either dispute the liability or address it. Enrolled Agents are licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS in various matters including collections. If you need help, they can be your advocate in reaching the best resolution to your tax problem.