Help! I haven't filed taxes in 3 years!
So, you haven’t filed your taxes in a few years. Maybe you were afraid that you would owe taxes. Maybe you just didn’t get around to it. Rest easy. There are steps you can take that will put you back into the good graces of the IRS. You might not necessarily get a refund, but you most likely will not be shipped off to jail.
If you want to make things right, first you’ll need to gather all of your information. This includes your W-2s or Form 1099s. If you do not have these documents, you can request them from your employer. If you cannot locate this information, you can request Form 4506-T. This is an official transcript, not a duplicate copy, of whatever the IRS has on file. It will contain the most pertinent information needed to file your taxes if you don’t have the original forms.
If you are planning to file your taxes yourself, without the help of a tax professional, keep in mind that you can e-file for the current tax year and the two previous tax years. Any previously missed tax years will need to be filed by hand using the appropriate forms.
Also, keep in mind that if you are due a refund, you will lose it after three years. For example, if you missed filing taxes in 2012, you will have effectively surrendered your refund to the IRS. However, if you are filing for 2014, as long as you file before the end of the tax year, you should be able to claim that refund, less any taxes owed or penalties.
In addition to the above, not filing taxes does not affect the fact that you may owe taxes. Interest begins accruing from the assessment date, along with other penalties. By taking care of your taxes as soon as possible, you are limiting the amount that the IRS can charge in these penalties and interest.
If you’re still reluctant to file your back taxes for fear of penalties, you should also know this. By not filing your taxes, you are also not reporting income to Social Security, quite possibly affecting your future payments. Even if you did manage to slip under the radar for years, it could come back to bite you in your retirement.
If you need assistance, you can always consult with a tax professional, like Zuckerman Law. You can also contact the IRS and make an appointment or go to the closest Tax Assistance Center (TAC) for help in getting your tax records in order and filed. If you decide to go to the TAC for assistance, you will need photo identification and your social security number.
Remember, continuing to not file taxes could set up a red flag with the IRS. If you get a bill for unfiled taxes, do not panic. These are usually high and based on substitute filed returns (SFR) created by the IRS. Filing your correct tax returns will adjust this number down. We can help you do this. If you need help filing back taxes, give us, the Fort Lauderdale tax attorneys of Zuckerman Law, a call for a consultation.