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TAX TIPS: How to file back tax returns with the IRS

By Rosalyn Partin, H&R Block

Have you failed to file previous years’ tax returns? If so, it’s time for you to get caught up! Not filing a required return is a serious issue with the IRS. If you don’t file, the IRS can file a return for you — with taxes and penalties.

Most taxpayers are required to file a tax return every year. The IRS keeps a record of taxpayers who are required to file but don’t – and the IRS can pursue those returns. That can mean stiff consequences and increasing complications.

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If you have back tax returns, the IRS can charge you expensive penalties, hold your refund, and even file a return for you without any credits or deductions in your favor (called a substitute return). Whether you have one or many returns to file, you should start taking steps right away to file an accurate and complete tax return that will get you back in good standing with the IRS.

You may find that you have a refund due from previous years. However, IRS generally won’t issue refunds if your return is over 3 years past the required filing date. So, if you haven’t filed your 2018 tax return and it has a refund, you must file the return on or before April 18, 2022 to receive the refund.

Act now to file all past-due returns.

  • If you don’t have all your documents for the year, start by requesting your wage and income transcripts from the IRS. These transcripts will help you identify the Forms W-2 and 1099 that you will need to prepare your return.
  • Gather information about self-employment, investments, and any other income that isn’t on file with the IRS.
  • If you have several past-due returns to file, the IRS normally requires that you file returns for the current year and past six years. But your specific facts and IRS rules will determine how far back you should file.
  • Complete your tax returns accurately. It’s best to double check your return against your IRS transcripts to make sure that you included all your income as it was reported to the IRS, and that you included all your withholding/estimated tax payments.
  • Send your return to the right IRS location.
  • Make sure you get proof that you filed in case the IRS doesn’t process your return or you experience related compliance activity (like IRS collection notices, a lien, a levy, or an unfiled return investigation).

Your H&R Block tax professional can help you track down all the information you’ll need to file a past-due return, resolve any related compliance issues, and communicate with the IRS. 

If you have questions about past due returns you need to file or want to schedule an appointment, please call H&R Block in Manchester TN at 931-728-9462. H&R Block Has Your Back!

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