Tax Evaders Beware This Tax Season

(KHNL)  Hawaii residents paid the highest amount of taxes in 2004, according to a new US Census Bureau report.

Hawaii taxpayers paid an average of $3,050 per person, while Texans pay the least, $1,368.

Rising costs in education and medicaid have led to these higher taxes.

"No one likes to pay taxes, I don't, but it's a privilege to live in America. It's one of the things you must abide by," said Stephen Hironaka, state criminal tax supervisor.

If you don't file or don't pay, the state could take you to court. Tax collectors have adopted a new strategy to get people to pay these high taxes. They're criminally prosecuting some, in hopes of scaring others into paying.

Criminal prosecutions have targeted everyone from real estate agents, to teachers to bus drivers.

State officials say this strategy is working. People are flooding into the tax office to clear their accounts. Collectors brought in a record $260 million in unpaid taxes last year.

"It certainly gives me incentive to make sure that I get them in on time, knowing that if I don't, not good things will happen to me," said Jason Sanders, a Hawaii resident.

If you're prosecuted, you could spend up to five years in jail and face up to $100,000 in fines.