Feature Articles: Taxes
Haven't Filed Last Year's Tax Return?
Here's What to Do
Reviewed and adapted with special permission from the IRS by: Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension
There are many reasons you might not have filed a tax return in previous years. You may not have known whether you were required to file. Whatever the reason, it’s best to file your return as soon as you can. If you need help, even with a late return, the IRS may assist you.
The failure to file a return can cost you — whether
you end up owing more or missing out on a refund. If you
owe taxes, a delay in filing may result in a "failure to
file" penalty and interest charges. The longer you
delay, the larger these charges become. Ignoring any IRS
tax bill that you owe will not make it go away. If you
cannot afford to pay past due amounts at one time, you
can usually work out a payment plan with the IRS.
There is no penalty for failure to file if you are
due a refund. However, you cannot get a refund without
filing a tax return. If you wait too long to file, you
may risk losing the refund altogether. The deadline for
claiming refunds is three years after the due date of a
Individuals who are entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit must file their return to claim the credit even if they are not otherwise required to file.
Whether or not you must file a tax return depends
upon a number of things, including your filing status,
age and gross income. Some taxpayers are required to
file whether or not they owe money. Even if you do not
meet any of the requirements to file, you can and should
file a return if you are due a refund.
To find out the consequences of not having filed in the past or for more information on how to file a tax return for a prior year, call the IRS toll-free Tax Help Line for Individuals at 1-800-829-1040 or visit your local IRS office.
Earned Income Tax Credit
Source: IRS Tax Tip 2005-18
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009