If you have unfiled tax returns, you could end up in serious trouble with the IRS. The IRS has ten years to collect taxes that you owe and if you filed a return ten years ago and owed taxes that you didn’t pay, the IRS will use your last known address as your contact. If you leave the country, the government has no way to contact you, but if you return within the ten-year period and start earning money, then they can come after you for the taxes and all the penalties and interest that has accrued on the original amount. If you have just not bothered to file tax returns, you had better have all the documents you need to file your returns. It doesn’t matter if your new income is much lower or if you have had a lot of medical bills. It could mean that you have no money left over to pay your mortgage or your regular bills.
If you find yourself in this serious situation, it is strongly advised that you obtain the services of a tax attorney. They will be able to help you sort through years of back taxes and work with the IRS to come to a reasonable agreement. Without the help of a tax lawyer, you will be faced with months of aggravation, confusing forms, and strict deadlines to handle on your own. A tax attorney will do all of this work for you, working the entire time with your best interest in mind.
When you don’t bother to file tax returns, the IRS will send you reminders. After a while these reminders will turn unfriendly and you may be faced with a Notice of Intent to Levy your assets and wages. The first thing you need to do is file the delinquent returns, whether or not you can afford to pay the taxes. If you can’t find your returns for the past two or three years, you can just call the IRS and ask them to send them to you. Since there are not many people working in this sector and they do receive a lot of calls, you need to allow at least one hour of wait time before you can get to speak to a representative.
You need to be friendly in your request for copies of all W2, 1099 and 1098 forms for the years for which you need to file tax returns. It is quite easy to have the appropriate work faxed to you because sometimes you may have to make two or three calls in order to get them mailed out. The order simply gets overlooked. The IRS does not deal in e-mail because of security measures, so there is no point in asking.
If your unfiled returns go back more than 6 years, then the situation gets more complicated. It will take much longer to locate records back that far because they are in storage and it takes longer to find them. The agent may have to go through the files and retrieve them individually.
A special unit in Utah photocopies most of the records for the back years, but they are overworked and understaffed. You will need to make your request on a Form 4509 and you need to allow 4 to 5 months before you receive the records that you need. This means a long delay in getting the unfilled tax returns brought up-to-date.
You need to have a copy of the W2 form in order to determine how much tax was withheld from your pay. Without this form, the IRS looks at your return as having no taxes withheld and therefore you are liable for paying the tax on the total amount of earnings. This means that you will have to pay double the tax because you have already paid it once and now you are being assessed a second time. You may have to contact every employer you had in the past and ask him/her to send you a copy of the W2 form for each year.
It is of vital importance for you to maintain a record of your tax forms and the documents that you need to file your return. While you may not bother with it because you owe money, if the time comes that you will be getting a sizable refund, you will lose it all to the IRS.
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