Unfiled Taxes? 10 years? 3 years? Forever?

Why didn't you file your tax returns? (Common explanations)

  • You knew you'd owe taxes and feared the consequences, so you didn't file.
  • You couldn't find the records to do them and the years compounded.
  • You divorced, your "ex" was the filer, and now you're lost.
  • Your accountant died and you panicked and stopped filing.
  • You have so many years to file that you're paralyzed with fear and inertia.
  • You're afraid that investigating your situation with the IRS will stir up a bees' nest.

Why should you handle your unfiled taxes?

  • It's the law. Not filing a tax return can be a felony.
  • It's hard to live an adult life as a non-filer. Buying or refinancing a house usually requires that you've filed your returns, for example.
  • If you want to get married, not filing might be considered a deal breaker to a future spouse.
  • The IRS might file substitute-for-returns for you without deductions and you'll owe more taxes than if you'd filed them yourself.
  • Your passport may not be issued by the federal government if you haven't filed your returns, making it hard to travel outside the U.S. (In fact, if you owe the IRS $50,000 or more your passport will be revoked.)
  • If you're self-employed, you might be missing out on increased Social Security contributions for when you retire.
  • To get health insurance on a health insurance exchange or healthcare.gov, which require you to have filed.
  • You might need to file your recent tax returns to get student loan aid for your kids (FAFSA).
  • To reduce your vulnerability to identity theft. Our recent observation has been that 50% of multi-year non-filers have experienced a malicious attempt to intercept their refund and/or file under their social security number.

Do you need to file every single year?

In almost every case we see, no, you do not need to file every year. The IRS generally wants to see the last seven years of returns on file. But it depends. If the IRS filed for you, you'll want to replace the Substitute for Returns with returns of your own to reduce the balance they assessed. If you're getting refunds and won't owe taxes, you can focus on the last four years only (as the statute of limitations prevents refunds beyond 3-4 years.)

How do your tax professionals at Washington Tax Services handle this for you?

  1. Research and analyze.
    We get thorough information on your tax situation, treading very lightly by posting Power of Attorney for you and researching your record online. By acquiring your tax info online, we avoid direct contact with the IRS and that might flag your situation.
  2. Make a determination, order records and file the returns.
    We'll determine the amount of years that need to be filed. All of the IRS records will be faxed to our office or we'll download them off the IRS e-services website.
  3. See if IRS filed for you and if you owe money.
    There are cases where the IRS filed for you—creating balances due—and you're likely going to be a hardship candidate. In these scenarios, we might not file the returns as it's a waste of effort; you're likely not going to pay in full so why bother?
  4. See if you're getting refunds.
    Before April 15th, 2024, you will receive tax refunds for the years 2021, 2022 and 2023 if you are entitled to them. After the April filing date, you will lose the 2021 refund as the statute of limitations prevents refunds after three years.
  5. Create a template for future compliance.
    How are you going to avoid tax problems in the future? Setting up a corporation? Remaining a sole proprietorship? Handling the bookkeeping via QuickBooks? We promise to assist you so you never run into a tax problem, breaking the non-filing habit once and for all.
You can reach our tax experts directly by calling or emailing:
Portrait of Jay Freeborne
Jay Freeborne
Enrolled Agent and Tax Resolution and Compliance Expert
(866) 525-7302 or [email protected]
Portrait of Stephanie Johnston
Stephanie Johnston
Enrolled Agent, Tax Resolution & Expat Expert
(866) 525-7321 or [email protected]

Is 2024 the year to solve your tax issue? WATAX is ready to assist you now. Please call us at 1-888-282-4697 or email us a description of your tax issue and we'll contact you promptly.

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