Unfortunately, there is a limit to how long you can file a tax return to apply for tax refunds and tax credits. This IRS only allows you to apply for refunds and tax credits within three years after the original due date of the tax return. You risk losing your refund if you don't file your return. If you are owed a refund for withholding or estimated taxes, you must file your return to claim it within 3 years after the due date of the return.
The same rule applies to the right to apply for tax credits, such as the earned income credit. There may not be a strict limit on the number of years you have to file back taxes, but that doesn't mean the IRS doesn't want your returns sooner rather than later. You must have filed tax returns within the past six years for the IRS to consider you “in good standing”. And if you want to apply for a tax refund from the previous year, you'll have to file it within three years.
There is usually a 10-year limit for collecting taxes, penalties, and interest for each year you didn't file a return. However, if you don't file your tax return, the statute of limitations for collections doesn't start running until the IRS makes a deficiency assessment. And if you owe taxes for any of the years you missed, you'll be fined for not filing a fine, a penalty, and interest in each of those years. Therefore, you must apply as soon as possible during all the years you did not apply.
Once you file the application, the IRS has up to 10 years to collect taxes, penalties and interest on the taxes you owe. The FTB is up to 20 years old. If you don't file or owe taxes, the IRS and the state have no time limit to collect taxes, penalties and interest for each year you didn't file a return. You can also file IRS Form 9465, the application for an installment agreement, along with your tax return, regardless of how much you owe.
If you think you owe back taxes, consider working with a tax professional who can help you gather previous tax returns and file those you've missed. For most tax evasion violations, the government has a time limit to file criminal charges against you. The IRS will eventually intercede and file a replacement tax return on your behalf if you wait too long and if you had any income during the year in question, and this probably wouldn't be in your best interest. You may have thought that you didn't have to file taxes because you didn't earn enough money or because you lived abroad.
Whether you have to file one or more returns, you or your tax professional should start taking steps right away to file an accurate and complete tax return that will allow you to get back up to date with the IRS. If you don't file a return, the IRS can file a replacement return on your behalf based on information provided to you by your employers, banks and broker-dealers. If you think you might owe the IRS when you file your tax return this year or next, consider making your estimated tax payments in advance. If you have overdue tax returns, the IRS can charge you expensive penalties, withhold your refund, and even file a return on your behalf without any credit or deduction in your favor (called a return substitute).
You'll need to give your tax professional access to all your tax documents, including IRS notices and letters, tax forms, records, receipts, company income and expenses, and the last tax return you filed. However, you'll usually also need to print and mail a back tax return if your software isn't approved for the modernized electronic filing system (MeF). Your block tax professional H&R can help you find all the information you'll need to file an overdue return, resolve any related compliance issues, and contact the IRS. .