Felons face numerous challenges as they prepare to get back into society again. That felony conviction cost them and their families so much.
It can be such a mountain to climb. They were away from their families for so long.
They know they face the enormous difficulty of finding a job upon release. That alone can set felons up for a return to crime if they cannot find employment again.
Persisting and finding a job will mean making the money to support themselves and their families, but it will also involve paying income tax.
This blog post will cover the question of whether felons can get a tax refund.
- Loss of Civil Rights
- Paying Taxes Is a Civil Duty
- The Case of Restitution
- Supporting Felons Meeting Tax Obligations
Loss of Civil Rights
Not only is there difficulty finding a job after release from prison but various civil rights are restricted, resulting from their conviction.
They are not allowed to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, or own or possess firearms.
Some felons may believe that an additional rights restriction is the right to hold a job. With the struggle that finding employment presents, it can seem that way.
Good paying jobs and developing careers are gone.
When they seek a job, they are at the mercy of employers who may not understand or empathize with their situation.
Even in this event, many jobs they might find may be lower paying than they were accustomed to prior to their conviction. Or they may have to start with a basic, lower paying opportunity just to get going again.
Well, the truth is that they can of course hold a job and make good employees. Along with having a job is getting paid, naturally. This means having some of their income withheld for income tax.
At the end of the year, a Form W-2 or appropriate Form 1099 is issued.
Some felons may ask themselves, since they are felons, don’t they lose the right to pay taxes?
Paying Taxes Is a Civil Duty
Well, paying taxes is a law for all wage earners, making it a duty rather than a civil right to pay income tax. All American citizens are expected to fulfill these duties.
This may create confusion for some felons who have just been released from prison. They didn’t pay taxes (or receive a tax refund) on the money they earned there.
Well, the case is that they simply did not earn enough to have to file a tax return. After all, many earned as little as 12 cents an hour for their employment.
If they had earned enough to file a tax return, they would have been required to do so.
Then they would have been eligible for and been allowed to receive a tax refund. They simply didn’t qualify.
Now that they are out of prison and have a job, if they have a tax refund coming to them, they will receive it. This will help them financially to get back that extra amount of money.
The Case of Restitution
Many felons are either in the position or know someone in the position in which they work all year but at the end of that year, don’t receive any money back from the IRS even though they are due a tax refund.
This may be true, although their tax return indicates that they should have a refund coming.
Why do some not get that refund?
The answer is that, if felons owe restitution from their crime, the federal government is permitted by law to seize any or all of felons’ tax refunds to go toward satisfying the restitution amount.
Those owing restitution are flagged in the IRS computer system. If a tax refund is due, the IRS can withhold it, and that amount will be applied toward the outstanding restitution balance.
Whether or not felons’ refunds are withheld depends on how much restitution is owed.
Judges typically set a certain amount to be repaid each month, which could be as little as $100 per month.
However, many financial crimes often involve large amounts of money.
If the judgment involves only a minimum monthly payment, some felons’ restitution would never be repaid.
Current estimates are that as much as $46 billion is owed as federal restitution.
The government therefore justifies taking all of some felons’ tax refund to help reduce their restitution amount more significantly. Even with this, many will continue to owe for the remainder of their lives.
While this may seem unfair, the magnitude of the crime and money involved, justifies it.
Those felons in these circumstances may still believe that this is unfair.
They are back into society again and are now working in a job that may be very low paying.
Just when they feel they are getting a re-start, the government takes their tax refund, which they could desperately use to help support their families.
Remember that that all of this is an essential step in beginning to live an honest life once again.
Having that job, paying taxes, and meeting their restitution responsibility will take them a long way in society.
They should keep that in mind as they move forward.
Supporting Felons Meeting Tax Obligations
Families of felons in this situation need to bear this in mind also. Of course they could use that tax refund. But their loved one is taking the steps necessary to live honorably again.
Be there to support them in these efforts. Help them stay on the honest path they have chosen, so they don’t become one of those statistics of almost 2/3 of felons returning to prison within the first two years out.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of getting a tax refund with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they deal with it? Please tell us in the comments below.