Filing Past Due Tax Returns

By Peoples Tax | September 26, 2019

I have not filed my taxes in a few years, HELP!

Taxpayers who do not file a timely tax return may incur interest and penalties on the amount they owe.  If the taxpayer is owed a refund due to taxes being withheld on their paycheck or if they paid estimated taxes, the only way to get a refund or claim a tax credit (i.e., Earned Income Credit) is to file a tax return.  The IRS will hold a taxpayer’s refund when records show that one or more tax returns are past due.  Taxing authorities impose strict penalties and even jail time on taxpayers who do not file their tax returns.  

How many years can I file back taxes?

There is no limit. You should file a tax return for each year in which you met the annual filing requirement. 

How do I file past due tax returns?

You may use the current IRS Form 1040 tax forms and mark on the top of the first page of Form 1040, in all caps the words: “ORIGINAL 20XX RETURN” (20XX = whatever year you are filing a past due tax return for). You would need to apply the tax laws for the year in question regardless of what is printed on the current year tax forms.  You may also visit the IRS website at to obtain prior year’s forms, instructions and publications.  

Past Due Tax Return

How long can I go without filing a tax return?

Federal law requires all taxpayers who meet filing requirements to file a tax return.  Failing to file a tax return, as required, is breaking the federal law; therefore, is deemed a criminal act. Not filing will usually result in notification by the IRS and subsequent penalties.  If you owe taxes for any return that was not filed by the due date, the IRS will assess Late Filing Penalties of 5% per month past due, up to 25% per year, as well as interest on taxes and penalties due at the IRS then current interest rate.

If I am due a refund, do I need to file?

You are still required to file, and if you wait too long, you could forfeit your refund.  The IRS will not issue your refund if you file more than 3 years after the original tax filing date (including extensions) of your return.

If I think I owe money on past years’ returns that I haven’t filed, what should I do?

File all past due tax returns immediately.  If you owe tax, interest, and penalties, but are unable to pay, you may request an installment payment plan using Form 9465.  If the amount you owe is substantial and you are concerned you don’t have the money to pay, contact Peoples Tax for information about Taxpayer Representation Services. After reviewing all returns to verify that the balance due is correct we will work with the taxpayer and the IRS to negotiate a suitable payment plan.  In some cases, taxpayers may qualify for an Offer-in-Compromise. An Offer-in-Compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. It may be a legitimate option if you can’t pay your full tax liability, or doing so creates a financial hardship. Assistance with this is also available through Peoples Tax.

Peoples Tax is available year-round to help you file all of your tax returns and can even represent you before the IRS, if necessary.  We can order your transcripts showing all income that was reported to the IRS as well as any tax payments that were made and complete an accurate tax return for each year required. Peoples Tax can assist you in becoming compliant and reestablish your good standing with the IRS and state tax agencies.

Give us a call at (804) 204-1040 or email us today to find out how we can assist you!

If you’re in Richmond, Virginia (RVA), we can meet at one of our RVA tax offices. If you are further away, we can handle your issues remotely by phone, email, Skype, our virtual portal and more!

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