What is the Effect of Crossing-Out the “Penalty of Perjury” Verification on an IRS 1040 Form?

The IRS 1040 Form concludes with a taxpayer’s obligation to sign the return under penalties of perjury, and to declare that the taxpayer has examined the return and accompanying schedules and statements, and state to the best of the taxpayer’s knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.

But what happens to a taxpayer who strikes or otherwise scratches-out the verification?  A taxpayer scratched-out the verification and suffered the consequences in United States v. Moore, 627 F.2d 830 (7th Cir. 1980).  In Moore, the taxpayer who scratched out the verification on tax returns filed over several years was indicted for tax evasion for failing to file income tax returns.  The IRS did not consider the unverified tax returns as tax “Returns.”

The court noted the taxpayer’s duty to sign a return that verifies its accuracy under penalties of perjury.  The Moore court found that debtor’s failure to verify the return under penalty of perjury resulted in the return not being deemed a “Return” for tax purposes. Id. at 834.

Practice Pointers: The best strategy is for the taxpayer to hand-deliver the tax returns to an IRS office and to have an extra copy hand-stamped “Filed” by the IRS representative.  A taxpayer should ask that both page 1 and page 2 of the Form 1040 be stamped so that the taxpayer has proof that the return was signed.

For follow-up questions, contact attorney Robert V. Schaller by clicking here.

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