I Havent Filed a Tax Return with IRS in Years, What Do I Do?

In elementary school, kids come up with creative excuses why they did not bring in their homework. "My dog ate it" or "It was stolen by invisible space aliens" might be given as a reason why something was not turned in on time. Don't try those excuses with the IRS! Don't blame divorce, business failures, or family troubles either, because except under extreme circumstances, they won't register with the taxman.

If you have unfiled tax returns, you need to file at least the last 6-7 years. Although under law IRS could make you go back and file that return from the late 1970's when you were a disco diva or urban cowboy, the good news is that as a matter of policy they don't! In most cases, filing the last 6-7 years will be OK and IRS will consider you in compliance. So don't procrastinate any further, file the returns if you made over the standard deduction and personal exemption amounts during those years or were self-employed.

People delay filing returns for 3 main reasons:

1. They are afraid or embarrassed;

2. They have lost the records or don't know where to go to get the returns done; or

3. Some crackpot advised them income taxes are bogus and that they don't have to file.

Don't be afraid of filing, be afraid of what will happen if you don't file. IRS could file for you and you might owe more than if you would have done it yourself or IRS could send somebody out looking for you. It is not a crime to owe IRS money, it can be a crime under some circumstances for not filing a tax return or a false return.

If you lost your records relax, in most case you can get all your income data from IRS so that you can prepare the tax returns. If you had deductions, you may have to dig those up and organize your records.

IRS is a legitimate government agency and they can and do enforce the laws on filing a Federal Tax Return. It sounds good when somebody says IRS is a fraud, but it is a lie. We all have to pay taxes.

If you havent't filed in years you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and after lots of time on hold and maybe a few transfers, you will eventually get somebody who can help you get your W2 info mailed to you. Your local library may have old tax forms and tax books to help you do the returns. You can do it yourself, but I suggest getting a professional to help you.

Don't go to some guy or gal advertising on TV with a big company. Go to a professional person or small firm where you can talk one on one with a CPA, Enrolled Agent, or Tax Attorney. It doesn't have to be a local person, you could hire someone across the country. With email, fax, etc. you can avoid some embarassment of going to a local tax pro if you live in a small town by hiring someone far away. But don't hire somebody without checking them out. Read any contract they send you. Don't part with your hard earned money unless you are sure of their qualifications.

Members of the following organizations must adhere to high ethical standards and might be a good choice for you: National Society of Accountants (NSA); National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA); or the American Insitute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). You might also look for professionals holding the Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) or Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) designation.

Don't let your cousin Jimmy do your returns or that nice neighbor who says he is an expert. I have seen more screwed up returns done by friends and relatives than I care to remember.

Get peace of mind, file those returns. You may owe money but you may have a refund waiting. Guess what, if you file the return more than three years after the due date; you lose the refund!

Here are some sites that can give you more info:

www.irs.gov
www.naea.org
www.nsacct.org
www.exirsman.com

James Robert Coleman, E.A., A.T.A.
Enrolled Agent & Accredited Tax Advisor
Member: National Association of Enrolled Agents
Former IRS Revenue Officer, GS-11
http://www.exirsman.com

In The News:

The Tax Increases to Come  The Wall Street Journal
The Big Problem With Wealth Taxes  The New York Times
Tax the Patriarchy  The Atlantic
Upper Prov OKs $6.3M budget, taxes going up $17  The Delaware County Daily Times

How to Donate Your Car to Charity and Get Tax Deduction

Donating your used car to charity is a win-win situation;... Read More

SFR Substitute for Returns: IRS Action on Non-Filers

In the latest Star Wars episode, the evil empire executes... Read More

Take Control of Your Taxes

As everyone in the U.S. knows, we have just passed... Read More

Business Tax Loophole: Leasing Assets To Your Corporation

While there are many equally valid reasons to incorporate, saving... Read More

How to Cut Duty Cost and Increase Profit as an Importer

Import duties continue to be significant elements in the cost... Read More

Tax Help Secret: Avoiding the Entreprenuers Curse

Your days as an entrepreneur and businessperson are consumed with... Read More

Understanding Basic Tax Terms

If your like many, you don't always understand what people... Read More

Paying Workers ? What Can You Write-Off?

As your business grows, you are going to need help.... Read More

Marriage or Divorce ? Check Your Social Security Number

Newlyweds and the recently divorced should make sure that names... Read More

Requirements To Produce Tax Information (Whats Up With That?)

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." ... Read More

E-commerce Taxation

The means and types of businesses have transformed with advent... Read More

Are You An Innocent Victim of These Popular Myths?

Misconceptions, misinterpretations and just plain "untruths" are floating about income... Read More

Euro Tax Haven Threat

Media reporting of a new EU savings tax directive has... Read More

Home Business Tax Tips

If you have recently started an Internet or home business,... Read More

Small Businesses Filing Amended Federal Tax Returns to Recover Money

Small Businesses Filing Amended Federal Tax Returns to... Read More

How Likely Are You To Be Audited?

Statistics for IndividualsUnfortunately, the IRS increased its rate of auditing... Read More

What is a Federal Tax Lien?

A Federal Tax Lien (FTL) is a legal instrument that... Read More

Organizing Your Taxes

Does this scene sound familiar? It's April 7. You haven't... Read More

How Home-Based Businesses Can Avoid Giving Uncle Sam More than His Share

How Home-Based Businesses Can Avoid Giving Uncle Sam... Read More

2005 Ford Escape Hybrid Certified For Clean-Fuel Deduction

If you are environmentally conscious and purchase a 2005 Ford... Read More

Fiscal Deity: Tax Consultant

Strategic planning throughout the year results in a minimal tax... Read More

Fraudulent Tax Shelters ? KMPG Goes Down Hard

In the largest criminal tax case ever filed, KMPG has... Read More

Car Donation: An Easy Way to Support Your Favorite Charity and Get a Tax Deduction

Most people look forward to getting their tax return, but... Read More

Tax Time Tune Up

Excerpted from the new book, "How to Do Space Age... Read More

Tax Records - What You Should Keep And For How Long

Many taxpayers are confused about how long they should keep... Read More