Last I heard (but my information may not be up to date) in 49 48 of the 50 states in the U.S., persons serving a sentence for a felony are not allowed to vote.

Suppose a person is convicted of a felonious failure to pay a tax. Under the 24th Amendment, their right to vote cannot be denied for that particular offense. (If it were tax evasion, i.e. concealing facts in order to avoid paying, that would be different matter, if I'm not mistaken.)

My question is whether that has ever happened, i.e. a person convicted of a felonious failure to pay a tax has been allowed to vote while serving a sentence because of the 24th Amendment?

  • 5
    Interesting question. Such a person arguably is not denied the right to vote ‘by reason of failure to pay ... tax,’ but by reason of having committed a felony. Is there actually a felony which is committed solely by failing to pay tax, without some additional element of wrongdoing such as deception? Seems like a harsh criminal consequence for what would normally be a civil wrong.
    – sjy
    Mar 14, 2018 at 3:33
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    @NateEldredge, but §7201 is a felony.
    – user6726
    Mar 14, 2018 at 5:15
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    I dunno: I will see what I can dig up about that section. For federal felonies, the key would is what meaning is attached to "by reason of failure to pay"
    – user6726
    Mar 14, 2018 at 17:47
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    @ohwilleke: Can you find the question you have in mind? As I mentioned above, 26 USC 7203 certainly appears, on its face, to criminalize exactly this behavior. "Any person required under this title to pay any estimated tax or tax [...] who willfully fails to pay such estimated tax or tax [...] shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000 ($100,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution." Mar 15, 2018 at 1:58
  • 1
    @A.fm. : I see: Massachusetts changed that law in 2000. Mar 15, 2018 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


The 24th Amendment states:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

But, no one in incarcerated in prison (and hence loses the right to vote) merely for failing to pay taxes. Usually, one is incarcerated in prison on tax charges for fraud in connection with one's tax obligation which is different from failure to pay. (A misdemeanor conviction does not result in the loss of an ability to vote, even while in jail.)

Refusal to pay, on grounds other than lacking the money (inability to pay isn't a criminal offense), when done without full compliance with other tax return filing obligations, is tantamount to tax litigation abuse and abuse of process, not mere failure to pay a debt.

  • I think you didn't answer the bit about not paying but doing all the other paperwork? Or did you mean "with" instead of "without"?
    – Stackstuck
    Mar 15, 2018 at 23:07
  • @Stackstuck The authority I was referring to is linked in a comment to the original question, and isn't quite on point as it pertains to civil tax penalties.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16, 2018 at 0:27
  • The problem with this answer is that it says "without full compliance". But the question was: What if it's with full compliance? I.e. what if the ONLY offense is failure to pay? Aug 30, 2018 at 22:21
  • @MichaelHardy: Then how did he end up in jail? I'd expect rather they just seize the money out of his bank account or garnish his wages and be done with the problem.
    – Joshua
    Jun 18, 2023 at 22:14
  • @MichaelHardy Felonious failure to pay taxes by definition is not full compliance. It includes an element of willful failure to pay taxes despite being able to do so.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 19, 2023 at 3:04

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