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What happens when you don't file taxes?

If you didn't file your taxes one year, you may not want to file the next year because of fear that the IRS will notice that you didn't file the year before. Be careful, one year can lead to another year, to another year and so on.

The IRS doesn't have a statute of limitations on filing your taxes if you owe them money. Even if it has been 10 or 20 years since the taxes were not filed, you can still file them. However, you cannot collect refunds for taxes over the last three years. But if the IRS finds that you owed and never paid, they can start collection at any time. Unfortunately, late filing will mean you owe more as you will have to pay additional penalties and interest.

Can you be charged with a crime for not filing?

There are several different crimes related to evading taxes that, yes, you can be charged with. But this rarely happens because the government can only file criminal charges for tax evasion crimes within six years of the date that the return was due. However, that being said, penalties for tax evasion can carry stiff penalties and fines -- as much as $250,000 in fines and up to five years of incarceration.

How does the IRS try to collect if I haven't filed?

The IRS may file what is called a Substitution for Return (SFR). They then send you a notice of deficiency for the amount owed. You have a certain amount of days to file a response, and you should do so right away. If you do not, the collection process may start. The IRS can garnish wages or bank accounts, or even file a lien against your property.

Why shouldn't I just let the IRS file for me?

The IRS does not provide for any exemptions or deductions when they file. It is a straight filing of taxes on your income as reported.

If the IRS has filed your income tax for you, you don't have to accept their SFR. But you must respond. You can seek a tax attorney to prepare your returna nd help file any others still outstanding. They may be able to get penalties for late filing reduced or discharged.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens If You Don't File Taxes for 10 Years or More?," accessed Feb. 23, 2018

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