Have a Tax Question? Ask a Tax Expert
Have you had any income for the last 6 years?
If so, approximately how much do you make each year?
Is the income you have from a regular job or from self employment?
Have you been contacted by the IRS about the fact that you have not filed?
In a situation where a taxpayer as not filed a return in a number of years, the IRS requires that you go back and file a return for the previous 6 tax years. In 99% of the cases, that would be as far back as you need to go.
The IRS receives copies of any W-2 forms or 1099 forms that are issued to you each year. When a taxpayer does not file a return on his own, generally the IRS will fill out a return for you based on the W-2 forms they have received which show the amount of income you earned and the amount of taxes that were withheld. They will fill out these returns allowing you deductions based on your standard allowance. If it appears that you have not paid in enough taxes through your withholding, you would be notified of the shortfall. If you have not received any recent notices from the IRS about any shortfalls, then chances are you had enough taxes withheld from your paychecks to cover any tax that you owe.
What you need to do is fill out tax returns for the previous six years to see where you stand. The forms and instructions for each year can still be downloaded from the IRS website, or you may use the help of a tax professional to complete these forms. Once you get those returns filled out you will then have a better idea of where you actually stand and if you really owe any taxes. If it ends up that you do not owe any taxes, then it would simply be a matter of filing those returns to get caught up with the filing requirements. No penalties would be assessed if no additional taxes are due.
If it ends up that you do owe some additional taxes, then depending on the amount that is due you can either pay off what you owe or try to set up a payment plan with the IRS if the entire amount cannot be paid at one time. But this is where you need to start to see where you actually stand.
As I said earlier, if you have not heard from the IRS recently about not filing, then chances are you have paid in enough taxes already through your payroll withholdings.
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