Unfiled Tax Returns: Why You Should File Now and How to Do it.

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Between work, family, bills, and everything else life throws your way, unfiled tax returns often fall to the bottom of the list.

The thought of tracking down tax records and facing ever-growing tax penalties are overwhelming.

But you should know what every tax professional knows: The sooner you file, the less you pay.

We recently helped a couple, who had not filed taxes for over five years, decrease the amount they owed by 90%.

The final balance was manageable and they were able to pay in full, bringing them into good standing with the IRS and relieving years of stress.

It is possible to get out from underneath the pile of papers and pressure.

Keep reading to find out how to resolve unfiled tax returns, what to do if you don’t have documentation and how a tax professional can help.

Resolve Unfiled Tax Returns in 3 Steps

Trying to file back taxes can feel like you’re drowning in a sea of unfamiliar terminology, not knowing what the page is talking about or what you’re supposed to do. 

That’s where we come in. Total Tax has more than 30 years of experience helping people get back on the path forward.

To resolve unfiled tax returns, follow these three simple steps.

Get Help Filing Your Past-Due Return Now

No Documentation? Here’s How to Catch Up on Past Due Tax Returns

The best way to quickly get correct documentation is to request your transcript from the IRS. 

You see, the IRS maintains a file going back years of all your W2s, 1099s, mortgage information, stock sales etc. 

There are three types of these accounts where you can get information on the status of your account (including penalties), wage and income, number of exemptions, filing status and self employment tax.

To request your transcripts visit or, hire a tax attorney to speak with the IRS on your behalf and get professional help researching your tax account.

Upset over unpaid bills

Why You Should File Your Past Due Return Now

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“Would it be better for me to just stop filing tax returns altogether if I missed filing one? Perhaps the IRS won’t take notice.”

Yes, the IRS will notice. Sticking your head in the sand and not filing is a really bad strategy. 

The IRS is known for taking a tough stance against tax evasion. When weighing the costs of filing vs not filing, know these facts:

Be prepare to pay even more

For the first five months, the IRS charges a late fee of 5% of the taxes you owe every month – up to 25% of your tax bill. 

Additionally, the IRS charges interest until the sum is paid in full (this is what we mean by, “the sooner you pay, the less you pay.”) 

Loss of property

When people fail to pay taxes, the IRS can file a legal claim to your property (your home, business assets, RV). Learn more about a Federal Tax Lien notice.

Wage Garnishment

You can lose up to 100% of certain wages from your paycheck, this is known as a “wage garnishment.” 

Which basically means the IRS can take money directly from your paycheck to pay back the money owed. 

IRS may freeze your bank account

It’s also possible for the IRS to freeze your bank account until the taxes are repaid in full, this is called a bank levy. 

If the levy is not lifted, then the IRS can take the funds from your bank account applying them to the total amount owed. 

Issues obtaining loans

Don’t expect to be able to get a house loan or car loan. Back taxes are public record and lending institutions are known to check the public records for tax liens before approving or denying a loan.

It’s Illegal

Every year that you have a filing requirement, the law requires you to file. If you don’t, the government could charge you civil or even criminal penalties.

What Happens If You Owe Taxes (More Than You Can Pay)

Sometimes, paying taxes on time in full is just not possible.

If you owe more taxes than you can pay, you still want to file because the IRS will work with you.

For example, you can enter a payment agreement with the IRS (like a monthly payment plan or offer in compromise) and you might even be eligible for a penalty waiver. 

Payment Plan

Apply for a payment plan to repay your back taxes in installments over several months.

If a payment plan is approved, the IRS is generally prohibited, with certain exceptions, from continuing to garnish your wages.

The levy will stay lifted as long as you stay on track with the new agreement.

Currently not Collectible

For taxpayers struggling to make payments, requesting a currently not collectible (CNC) status from the IRS may grant you some time.

If the IRS grants your request for CNC status, they will temporarily suspend the wage garnishment (and other collections actions). 

It’s important to be aware that your unpaid balance does not disappear – this only provides temporary tax relief

When your financial situation improves, the clock starts again, and IRS collections can begin anew. 

While this method can offer temporary relief during difficult times, the amount you owe will continue to grow due to penalties and interest.

Offer in Compromise

Another option is to apply for an offer in compromise (OIC), which you may know more commonly as a settlement. 

Not everyone is eligible for an offer in compromise. To see if you qualify, the IRS will assess information about your income, assets, and expenses.

You must explore all other payment options before submitting an offer in compromise.

Tax time!
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Calculating taxes

Start the Process of Filing Back Tax Returns

Good news, you don’t have to navigate the IRS on your own (or spend any time waiting on hold.) 

Total Tax can help by making recommendations and advocating on your behalf. The first step is scheduling a free consultation with a local tax attorney.

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Chat with Professional Tax Attorneys:

Contact us today for a free consultation. Let us help you get the tax relief you need and deserve.

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Get Help Filing Your Past-Due Return Now

Total Tax Success Stories

Everyday people just like you are contacting Total Tax for help with unfiled tax returns.

  • Read inspiring stories of Total Tax clients who were able to win a tax settlement and secure a strong financial future.

    Below are a few examples of recent tax settlements won in the last year:

    California State liability of $4,893,000. Settlement amount: $1,000.

    IRS Federal liability of $82,100. Settlement amount: $40.

    IRS Federal liability of $98,312. Reduce to Refund: $2,940.

    IRS Federal liability of $70,040. Reduced to $0.

  • Your Tax Questions Answered

    Below are frequently asked questions about unfiled tax returns. Don’t see your question below? Check out our FAQ page or call (206) 966-4122 to have your question answered by a team member.