How do governments collect taxes?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Most taxes are collected at the time a transfer is being made -whether it is withholding from a pay check, added to the purchase price of goods at the point of sale, or when a license or permit is issued.

In addition, information and tax returns are filed with the government – such as income, fiduciary, and estate tax returns. Tax returns are required to be filed according to the procedural law governing taxes. For example, individuals are required to file a federal income tax return showing all income received during the past year – if the individual has received above the specified amount of income during the past year (and the base amount which triggers the need to file a tax return differs based the individual’s filing status – single, married, head of household or married filing separately).

There are stiff penalties for failure to file information and tax returns as well as penalties plus interest for failure to pay the tax on time. In addition, it is a crime to fail to pay taxes or file information/tax returns when due.

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