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Unfiled Tax Returns - File Back Taxes

Updated: Apr 18, 2019


How Many Years Can You File Back Taxes?

Shortly after the first of the year rolls around, taxpayers experience the dread of tax season. April 15th may seem far away, but the tax return deadline comes in the blink of an eye for the majority of us who wait to gather and submit our critical documents to the IRS. Whether it’s due to procrastination or downright avoidance, every year hundreds of unfiled tax returns will go neglected but not forgotten by the IRS.

Should you have unfiled taxes, the IRS knows and will sooner or later come after you to collect what they’re owed (if they haven’t already). Flat Fee Tax Service, Inc.'s blog answers some insightful questions for those who are considering not filing a return this year, who failed to file tax returns in the past, or who are in desperate need of unfiled tax return help. Our IRS tax relief team will take a look at the consequences and see what you could potentially stand to lose.

Is Not Filing a Tax Return Illegal?

Yes, if you’re required to submit an income return to the IRS and fail to file, your unfiled taxes (#filebacktaxes) are considered a crime in the eyes of the law ever since the tax bill was passed within the 1913 Sixteenth Amendment.

It states that “Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived…” and both federal and state agencies enforce “tax code” compliance. Not everyone is subject to the same requirement, however, as your tax obligation is based on:

  • Your filing status

  • Your gross income

  • Your age

Read up on the latest IRS tax return filing requirements to see if you’re safe with unfiled taxes. Generally speaking though, most adults with earned income are subject to tax codes, and by failing to file your tax return you subject yourself to a host of consequences.

What are the Penalties for

Unfiled Tax Returns?

If you have unfiled tax returns and owe the IRS money, you’ll also face the failure to pay penalty: generally 0.5% per month of unpaid taxes, with a minimum fine of $135. As the interest and fees continue to pile up on your unfiled taxes from prior years, you’ll soon find yourself with an insurmountable tax debt and needing to file back taxes taxes help to settle your outstanding obligation.



Can I Face Criminal Charges for

Unfiled Taxes?

The short answer is, yes you can be charged criminally. The IRS is unlikely to prosecute a taxpayer who filed late, can’t afford to pay their tax bill, or accidentally reported misinformation. However, if you don’t file your taxes despite knowing an obligation to do so, you could be guilty of tax evasion—a criminal offense punishable by law. The punishment will vary depending on the severity of your crime, but in almost all cases someone charged with tax evasion will require an IRS Tax Lawyer to represent them.

What if the IRS Owes Me Money?

If you’re owed a tax refund due to eligible tax credits or from withholding extra allowances on your Form W-2, an unfiled tax return could cause you to lose out on any money heading your way. If you leave your taxes unfiled, the IRS will likely just keep your scheduled returns. This benefits the IRS but works against your favor, especially if you were expecting to see a large return.

As of 2017, the IRS states that you have up to three years to request a former tax refund, so be sure to settle your unfiled tax returns as soon as possible.

I Have Unfiled Tax Returns But Haven’t Heard from the IRS — Am I Okay?

No, just because the IRS has not contacted you regarding your unfiled taxes does not mean you’re not on their radar. April is the busy tax season, but IRS officers have all year long to review unfiled tax returns (#unfiledtaxreturns). Just because they’re prioritizing the big fish doesn’t mean they won’t also go after the small guys, too. You might not have filed an income tax return for years, only to one day suddenly receive a notice stating your shockingly high tax debt and finding yourself in desperate need of unfiled tax return help.

This is because the IRS technically has an unrestricted amount of time to investigate your account for as long as you fail to file. The good news is that once you do correct your outstanding taxes, you start the clock on the unfiled tax return statute of limitations. The IRS statute of limitations states that generally speaking, the government has up to ten years to collect on a debt for your unfiled tax return.

If you’ve been sitting on back taxes for years, the time frame constraining the IRS has not yet started, giving the IRS an endless amount of time to sit on your IRS tax problem. Have your unfiled tax returns prepared now and file your taxes immediately to start the window of unfiled tax return statute of limitations and narrow the time-frame the IRS has to collect on you.

How Can I Resolve My Unfiled Taxes?

The good news is that IRS amnesty for unfiled returns is available to taxpayers to settle their account and clear their names. There are many IRS amnesty unfiled return programs, and your best bet is to find trusted unfiled tax return help, but the two most common options are:​

1. Installment Plan

There are several different installment plans for which you may to eligible to qualify for, allowing you to repay the government in a scheduled period of time.

2. Offer in Compromise

The IRS tax relief programs include the ability of a taxpayer to settle their past due tax debt. Sometimes IRS officers will accept an Offer in Compromise (#IRSsettlement), or a negotiated payment amount, to settle their outstanding debt from unfiled tax returns.

To have a successful Offer in Compromise submission, the last six (6) years of tax returns must be filed.










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