6 Years for Filing Back Taxes, 3 Years To Claim a Refund

Nov 08, 2023 By Triston Martin

While there may not be a specific time restriction on how many years you have to file back taxes, the Internal Revenue Service prefers that you submit them as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last minute. To be in "good standing" with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you must demonstrate that you have submitted tax returns for the preceding six years. If you wish to get a tax refund for a year that has already passed, you must file your taxes within three years of that year.

How many years back can you file taxes? If you put off filing your taxes for an excessive amount of time and if you made any income during the year in question, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will ultimately step in and file a replacement tax return on your behalf. This is not likely in your best interest. They won't be concerned with claiming any tax credits or deductions to which you may be entitled, even if you qualify. They will construct a basic tax return for you if you do not have them, which means that you will most likely wind up owing more money than you would have owed if you had done the return yourself or engaged a professional to do it for you.

A warning will be sent to you in advance of this happening. You will be sent a Notice of Deficiency CP3219N, which will inform you that you have ninety days to either file the overdue tax return yourself, making sure to include all of the applicable deductions and credits or file a petition with the Tax Court to defend your case.

Which Tax Documents Am I Required To Have To File My Back Taxes?

When was the most recent year that you submitted your taxes? Have you kept a copy of the tax return on your own? Do you still have copies of your W-2s and any other tax records for years in which you did not file taxes? You will need to acquire as many pertinent tax records as possible for the years you did not file taxes.

If you are missing tax papers from a prior year, you may either contact your employer or the institution that was responsible for sending them to you to obtain copies from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filing Form 4506-T.

You will need particular tax returns and forms for that tax year and Papers W-2 and 1099 for any money you brought in during the year in question. At a bare minimum, you will need these forms. For instance, it is impossible to use a 2021 Form 1040 to declare income earned in 2019. You should also obtain supporting proof of everything you spent that year that would be tax deductible or qualify you for tax credits. Examples of this paperwork include bank and credit card statements for the relevant time period.

How Can I File and Pay My Back Taxes?

If you want to handle the preparation of your own tax returns, look for software that is both dependable and simple to use. You should prepare to spend a few hours on each tax return you must file. Tax preparation software applications are available to you at no cost.

Again, double-check that the software and paperwork you use are proper for the tax year. The regulations change yearly, and your choices for your program might be crucial to your compliance and the number of your obligations or refund.

If you decide to hire the services of a professional, your first step should be to look for someone with a large amount of expertise in preparing back taxes. This will be the best route if you require guidance on handling incomplete tax documents or representation from an advocate who will negotiate with the Internal Revenue Service on your behalf. To properly file the back tax returns, you must print them out and send them in by mail to the Internal Revenue Service. It is not possible to accomplish this online.

Paying Debts and Collecting Tax Refunds

It is not too due to settling any tax debt that may be owed on a return that has been filled out. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants your money, so it will make the procedure easy for you. You may pay the IRS card using your bank or savings account using the Direct Pay website, and the IRS also accepts payments made using credit cards.

It is important to remember that there are time constraints for requesting refunds, conducting audits, and collecting a debt. Your tax refund will typically "expire" three years from the date that your tax return was required to be filed. On the other hand, if you owe additional tax debts—for example because you have a balance due from a previous year—your refund is often allocated to offset that obligation rather than being given to you.

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