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Taxes and Tax Preparation
Income Taxes
Tax Refunds

How far back should you file tax returns?

Answer

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Wiki User
September 12, 2011 11:27PM

You may file a late return at any time. Many returns are done that way, for many reasons. Obviously, the IRS may contact you at any time...and the longer you wait to file increases the chances substantially. Sooner or later, your ID#, maybe a payroll withholding or another tax statement, will cause a computer to look at your record and notice it isn't complete. Once your contacted and under investigation, your options (and ability to dispute or ask for forgiveness of penalties and such) become much more limited. Right now, all that's happening is your account is accruing interest and penalties and the debt if any, is getting greater. (Generally, for really bad filers that come forward and want to come clean, the IRS will limit things to the last 7 years).

The statute of limitations does not start to run until a return is filed. Hence, don't file and you are perpetually open toexam and assessment for that period...it never goes away.

Finally, one of those interesting things observed by many in the tax field....a very high percentage of people who don't file and come in for assistance, actually had a refund due them had they filed. A refund that is frequently lost because there are time limits to claiming refunds