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Don't Let Unfiled Tax Returns Follow You

Owing back taxes to the IRS is like spending your life pulling a heavy ball and chain. The best way to free yourself from this unnecessary burden is to arm yourself with the experience and resources of a proven tax attorney.

At Silver Tax Group, we can wrap up your issues so you can move on with your life. We bring more than 40 years of experience to these issues and have a tremendous track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for individuals, couples and businesses nationwide.

Do You Have Unfiled Returns?

One unfiled tax return can quickly spiral into a problem with you owing back taxes to the IRS. And the IRS will be in no mood to cut you any slack.

How can we help you? We can help you become current on your filings by filing reconsideration returns and pursuing a hardship resolution. What’s better than having an actual tax attorney on your side who is trained to get your returns current? Nothing. We can prepare your taxes and handle any audits or disputes that arise. This is a crucial combination in making sure your issues are satisfactorily resolved. Contact us for your free case evaluation and our lawyers will take care of the rest.


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Unfiled Tax Returns

Understanding What to Do with Unfiled Tax Returns

A staggering 62% of Millennials stress about their finances weekly. Often, that stress leads to procrastination on more than just paying bills. People with financial stress often put off going to the doctor, buying food, or paying taxes.

Tax season anxiety is real. And if you’ve not paid your taxes this year, you’re probably not alone. About 5% of the populace fails to file their taxes every year.

What happens now? Are you going to jail? Will the IRS send a SWAT team to break down your door?

Thankfully, the IRS just wants you to pay your taxes. 

Unfiled Tax Returns

The History of Income Tax

The government hasn’t always required income tax filing. For a short time during the Civil War, citizens in the United States didn’t have to pay a tax on their income. Congress tried to levy a tax on income in 1894, but the Supreme Court shot down the bill. It was a flat tax and the constitution at the time required the government to consider state population when creating a tax. This meant Congress must unanimously vote to change the constitution to create a tax on income.

In 1913, they did just that. They ratified the 16th amendment, which allowed the Federal government to tax individual income without considering state population. March first was the original tax filing day.

Congress pressed this date forward to March fifteenth then April fifteenth where it remained. Now that the 16th amendment is in the constitution, it’s illegal to forget to file your taxes. And the Federal government now has the authority to collect those taxes by force through the court of law.

In 1998, the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act created a Taxpayer Advocate Service as an independent aspect within the IRS. This is supposed to give taxpayers a fair advantage in court.

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How Does the IRS Know You Haven't Filed?

You might think, “Hey! The IRS is so huge, isn’t it likely they won’t notice my tiny missing income tax filing? Why not just refuse to file?” While, yes, the IRS has many employees, they’re also super meticulous when they choose to be. So, the best recourse is to file early and file often. What are your chances of escape? Let’s roll the dice and find out.

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IRS Audit Types

The IRS uses an audit system to catch missing or incorrect filings. It’s not unlike the TSA and their random pat-downs or bag checks where the authorities rely on statistics to reduce load while still catching errors.

The most common audit is called the correspondence audit. The IRS simply sends you a letter if they’ve audited you and found an error. This could mean they found an error in your reporting document or they don’t have enough support for your claims in the document. 

All you need to do is admit to the error or produce evidence that what you reported is accurate. The second is an office audit. The IRS will ask you to come to their local office for an interview. You should probably bring a tax professional to represent you. You don’t want to give the IRS more reasons to audit you further. A professional will stick to what they know and keep emotions out of the equation.

You can always appeal an audit if you’re not satisfied with what the IRS tells you in these meetings.A field audit is rare. An agent will come to your home or business in this case. They’ll notify you beforehand so you can have representation. The IRS might do this because they want to consult your local files or interview employees. Most audits aren’t line-by-line audits. 

The auditors know where to look to find errors and to save time they only check those sections of a filing. But line-by-line audits do happen when the National Research Program decides to refine the IRS data collection process. If a line-by-line audit happens to you, they’ll surely find a mistake. But again, this type of audit is rare.

Unfiled Tax Returns

What Are the Chances of Being Audited?

The chances of getting audited in any given year are high. The IRS audited one in 161 filings in 2017. That’s a 0.006% chance. Chances of home burglary are a 0.004% chance, and you still lock your doors when you leave.

Unfiled Tax Returns

What Can the Government Do to You If You Don't File?

It’s not worth leaving up to chance whether the IRS will audit you. If you haven’t filed, file now. But if the prospect of getting audited still doesn’t compel you, here are the things that could happen if you don’t.

The five percent and .5 percent penalties may not seem like a lot when you owe very little in taxes, especially if you’re going through a financial rough patch. You might be tempted to wait to pay so that you’ll have money for other bills.

Or you may make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t owe thousands or more in taxes, the IRS simply won’t notice that you haven’t paid. But the IRS does track those who fail to pay. And while you won’t see any punishments besides penalty fees for at least a few months after the deadline passes, this won’t last forever.

Eventually, the IRS will begin using other tactics to collect back taxes owed. Eventually, they may take your car, your home, your retirement account, or other assets in order to get their money.

You do have rights before that can happen. But that doesn’t mean that the IRS won’t continue to fight in order to get you to pay any taxes and penalties that you owe.

If the IRS and tax agencies haven’t reached out to you in reference to your unfiled tax returns, you might think that if they were going to reach out, they would’ve done so by now.

The reality is that the IRS doesn’t have a time limit to collect taxes if you never filed. 

In fact, you’re only protected by a time limit if you file your taxes, at which point the IRS only has 10 years to collect from the date you filed.

Tax agencies’ time limit is specific to the state, so depending on where you live, it could be less or more than 10 years for them to collect.

Other Consequences

Buying a house becomes nearly impossible if you don’t file, as that is a prerequisite to applying for loans and is an immediate red flag to your account. Certain things such as healthcare, financial aid (for you or your kids), and applying for a passport requires you to have filed as well.

Prison – There may be legal action taken against you in the form of tax evasion charges, which can result in up to 5 years in jail and $100,000 in fines. It’s a common misconception that the IRS wants you to “pay for your actions”, instead, the IRS would rather work with you to get things rectified.  Still, the IRS can file charges up to three years after you file your taxes. Needless to say, it’s in your best interest to file all your taxes and cooperate with the process.

Interest Rates – As soon as the original due date has passed, interest will be charged on all the taxes you haven’t paid. Having 10 years worth of unpaid taxes will result in a significant amount of interest that has piled up. In some cases, you can be charged up to 100% of late taxes 60 days after their due date, so letting that number increase will keep the interest stockpiled as well.

The IRS May Have Filed a Substitute Return – Sometimes, if you didn’t file your return by the due date, the IRS may have filed one for you. This isn’t a return that will work in your favor, however, as you won’t be granted deductions and exemptions that a tax attorney would find for you. This is essentially a way for the IRS to claim your responsibility and start to collect. The good news is that you don’t have to accept an SFR if one was filed on your behalf. You can refile down the line to accept the proper deductions and lower the amount you owe as well.

Unfiled Tax Returns

The IRS Has No Deadline to Collect On You

While unfair, the IRS could come after you ten, twenty, thirty years from now. This is especially true if you continue to keep your returns to yourself. During this time, the IRS continues to charge interest on what you owe them. This interest changes year to year. Interest is the federal short-term rate plus 3%. This builds up until you owe 25%. This means there is a cap on how much you owe. But the trick is, each time you fail to file, they’ll assess interest on that individual filing.

Say you owe $4000 and you fail to file all year, you’ll owe $5,000. If you fail to file the next year, you’ll owe $10,000. How much you owe continues to compound. And if you wait too long, you could end up owing 100s of thousands of dollars.

Unfiled Tax Returns

Not Filing? You May Become a Criminal

You may not be hanging out in your underwear cooking meth out of a camper van. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t file your taxes, the Federal Government sees you as a criminal. Now, the government can’t just wait thirty years for your income taxes to build up before charging you. In this, they do have a time limit. That limit is six years. Again, the IRS wants its money. And it’s expensive to prosecute citizens. If you’re merely forgetting to pay your taxes, the IRS is going to send you plenty of warning letters first.

You might receive the CP504 Notice or the Intent to Levy Notice. If the IRS owes you, they might threaten to take your refund if you owe them. If you don’t have a refund, they might threaten to seize your assets instead. This could mean losing your car, your home, and other personal property. They can likewise seize your bank funds or your social security benefits or even garnish your wages. If you own a business, they can seize your payments or your commissions.

Unfiled Tax Returns

Tax Evasion Is Different

Tax evasion is deliberate. You’re scheming to undercut the government by reporting/paying less or intentionally not paying. Al Capone is likely the most famous example. Tax evasion is what finally brought the kingpin down. In 1931, Capone was sentenced to 11 years in Federal Prison and owed $215,000 in back taxes plus interest.

Tax evasion is less severe than tax fraud. It’s easier to prove someone intentionally avoided paying taxes than proving they were trying to defraud the government. Thus, if you’ve been undercutting the government, you’ll probably get slapped with lower penalties than tax fraud doles out.

Tax avoidance is like ducking punches in a bar fight rather than hitting back. It’s an entirely reasonable (and legal) way to deal with it. Tax avoidance is the legal way to reduce your tax burden. It’s the primary reason why you should file your taxes. You might be surprised at what kinds of deals you can cut with the IRS through your filing.

Things like tax credits, business deductions, and legal tax shelters like a 401(k) plan are considered tax avoidance. And you should do everything legally within your means to avoid taxes. It’s your money, after all.

Unfiled Tax Returns

What Are the Consequences of Tax Evasion?

Tax evasion doesn’t just apply to Federal Income taxes. You could get charged with tax evasion by both the IRS and your state tax agency.

Not filing is the least offensive crime under tax evasion law. You will only be fined up to $100,000 and receive a maximum of one year in prison. If you put false information in your tax filing or you’ve created in any other way on your taxes, you could get up to $250,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Honesty is the best policy when filing your taxes, especially if you don’t want to miss up to five years of your life.

Even if you aren’t the one evading taxes, you could be charged. Don’t help anyone evade taxes. If someone wants to launder money through your business, just say no. Helping someone evade taxes could land you three to five years in jail. If your name isn’t Walter White, don’t do it.

Unfiled Tax Returns

What You Should Do with Unfiled Tax Returns

While all this information might have you quaking in your Birkenstocks right now, remain calm. If you haven’t filed and you missed the deadline for an extension (and the IRS audited you), the IRS will file for you based on your W-2 and other sources.

You’ll receive a letter notifying you of your substitute return. They’ll tell you what the income sources were and how much they think you owe.

You have thirty days to do one of three things:

  1. Complete and send in a tax return filing
  2. Consent to the assessment and pay
  3. Send a letter outlining why you couldn’t file

If you’ve not filed for several years, it’s wise to file now. You’ll avoid penalties and interest on your unpaid taxes. Or, in a best-case scenario, you’ll receive the money the IRS owes you.

Unfiled Tax Returns

How to File Back Taxes

If you’re finally filing back taxes, you want to get things right. The IRS is more likely to audit your filings if you’re paying back taxes and you don’t want to waste your time.

1. Gather All Pertinent Information

If it’s been a while since you filed, you might not have all the necessary documentation. You’ll need your W-2 and 1099 forms. For a fee, you can have the IRS send you this information.

2. File Your Return

If you own many assets and investments, you might want to consider hiring a tax professional. While you can use software to aid in your tax preparation, filing multiple returns can be complicated. And you want to streamline this process. If you need time to complete these returns and you’re running up on the deadline, you can request an extension. You can also agree to make payments if the IRS has already told you what you owe.

3. Keep Up With the IRS

Once you’ve filed, you want to make sure the IRS is processing the return. While electronic returns have cut down on lost filings, the IRS is still a flawed institution. To be safe, you should still keep track of your filings. You can ask for an account transcript if you want to keep track. This will allow you to see if the IRS received your returns and lets you know if you filed correctly. Be sure to file all your returns. If you missed a return, your transcript should notify you of this.

What If the IRS is Already After You?

If the IRS does decide to charge you for unfiled tax returns, they must adhere to due process. This means a legal battle which you shouldn’t face alone. Your chances of lessening your penalties increase if you hire representation.

If you need help with anything tax-related, click the button below or give us a call at (855) 900-1040 and we’ll solve your IRS problems for you.

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“This is my go to attorney for all my tax related issues. He is Knowledgeable, skilled, and reliable when it comes to anything tax related. I highly recommend Mr. Silver." - Ryan S.
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