How to Catch Up on Un-Filed Tax Returns

So, you found out you owed the IRS a few years ago and decided that you’re just not going to file anymore because you don’t want to keep accumulating debt. If this is true, know that you’re not alone. I see it all the time with client. HOWEVER….Let me be the first to say, that is the WORST thing you could ever due. Just because you don’t file, doesn’t mean you don’t owe the IRS anymore. I get it…no one wants to owe the IRS money, but let’s face it; You can hide from the IRS. THEY WILL FIND YOU!  The IRS requires that the last six years returns are filed in order for a person to be considered “current and compliant”. Falling behind on taxes can be scary, but with a few simple steps, you can get caught up and quickly get yourself out of the “red zone” with the IRS.

Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t get behind on your taxes:

  1. Early filing will eliminate interest charges and late filing penalties
  2. Any tax refund is lost if you don’t file within 3 years of the return due date. The IRS will also hold a current year refund if they see that you are past due on a previous year return
  3. You will not receive credit towards Social Security Retirement or any disability benefits. The IRS requires reported income in order to award these credits
  4. It limits your ability to apply for credit or loans. If you’re not filing taxes, you have no proof that you earn income

Being behind on taxes can impact several areas of your life; it may not impact you immediately, but at some point it will.

Unfiled Taxes

Here are a few steps to take to get yourself caught back up:

  1. Determine what year(s) need to be filed. If you can’t remember what years have and have not been filed, call the IRS directly at 1-866-681-4271 and speak with a representative.
  2. Gather Your Income Records: Make sure that you have all your bank statements and/or W2’s from any previous employers. You need to have records of any money you’ve earned starting with the year that you need to file for. Ex: If you have not filed since 2012, you need to have your income records for 2013 and forward.
  3.  Gather Your Business Expenses: Once you’ve compiled all of your income records, work backwards and compile all your business expenses. Compile all receipts and review bank statements for debit transactions related to your business
  4. Determine Repayment Method: You want to determine if you can or cannot repay the IRS on the front end. You will need to be prepared to negotiate a solution for the balances due with the IRS collections department.
  5. File with the correct tax forms. You may not be able to e-file, but you can hire a tax pro to file for you or purchase a software for each tax year and file yourself. I would suggest using a tax professional so that your returns are completed accurately.  Make sure your state taxes are being filed simultaneously with your federal returns.
  6. Next Steps: Stay organized so that you don’t fall behind again. Getting your business documents in order can help you be more prepared moving forward.

Sometimes, the IRS will file your past due returns for you, and you don’t want that to happen because you will miss out on any credits or deductions you may have been eligible for.  It takes the IRS approximately 6 weeks to process those back returns so watch your mail closely for any notices; this will indicate that your return is being processed. If you’re lost or confused about getting caught up, the best thing you can do is call them directly. Avoiding the IRS does not make your issues go away, it actually makes matters worse. They are willing to work with you, but you have to communicate.

I hope this helps you get back on track. Got questions? Drop them below or shoot us an email at

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