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Guide – Unfiled Back or Past Due Returns

Your Comprehensive Guide to Unfiled Back or Past Due Tax Returns

Guide – Unfiled Back or Past Due Returns

Dreis Tax Services offers affordable tax services and a comprehensive knowledge of tax systems and policies. Our expertise ensures a smooth and worry-free process to get you back into the tax system.

Don’t feel anxious or alone in your tax situation. Understanding the process and how straightforward it can be will provide you with immediate peace of mind regarding your back tax issues.

Unfiled, past due, back tax returns.

Unfiled, back, or past due tax returns present a significant challenge for the IRS, prompting them to implement measures to address non-filers.

Current estimates indicate that over 10 million taxpayers have failed to file their tax returns, creating a substantial issue for the IRS.

In response, the IRS has intensified its enforcement efforts by utilizing matching programs to identify non-filers. They have allocated a larger budget for technology to improve the detection of individuals who have not filed their taxes.

This issue has been designated a high-priority problem by the IRS, as it results in the loss of millions of tax dollars. To aid in their efforts, the IRS employs computer matching and software programs.

The IRS Information Reporting System (IRP) is used to cross-reference W-2s and 1099s with the tax documents submitted, and these matching programs are executed annually.

If you have failed to file tax returns for several years, it is only a matter of time before the IRS catches up. To avoid potential legal consequences, it is essential to file your tax returns before your case turns into a criminal investigation.


  • The IRS offers taxpayers the opportunity to submit missing tax returns, which often helps them avoid criminal prosecution. However, it is crucial that all unfiled tax returns are completely accurate; otherwise, the risk of facing criminal charges increases significantly. Filing a fraudulent tax return is a serious offense that should be avoided at all costs.
  • If you believe this is the appropriate course of action for your situation, it is essential to voluntarily inform the IRS about your failure to file. Hiring a tax professional can be beneficial, as they will file a power of attorney along with a written letter, indicating the anticipated date of filing. This will serve as your attempt to voluntarily file with the IRS.
  • Additionally, you must ensure that you file a correct tax return, make full payment if possible, and disclose your situation before discovering you are under criminal investigation. Annually, the IRS prosecutes around 1,700 cases, and the average sentence is 25 months, with a conviction rate of 92%. Taking timely and accurate action is crucial to avoid severe consequences.

How many back years do I file?

Providing an exact timeline for your case is difficult without first reviewing your unique circumstances. The length of time can vary between 3, 6, or 7 years. Once we assess the specifics of your case, we can provide a more accurate estimate. We aim to file the minimum number of years required by the IRS. Typically, cases with no assets can be resolved by filing 3 years of taxes. However, if you want to accumulate social security credits, it is better to file more years.


Gather past 1099s/W-2s and bank statements to determine income for unfiled tax years.

The taxpayer must make an effort to reconstruct their tax earnings and expenses to the best of their ability for each year. A simple method is to calculate monthly averages for different expenses during those years.

For instance, consider the monthly amount for rent or mortgage, car expenses, food, insurance, and other expenses. Then, multiply these monthly figures by 12 to obtain an estimate for the entire year. Typically, rent or mortgage comprises around 28% of monthly expenses as a general guideline.

Do you know how much you deposited in your bank account all year and can you compare to your total income?

In case you don’t have any record of your income, you may contact the IRS and request an income report that lists all third-party sources that have reported your income through 1099’s or W-2’s. The IRS keeps track of such records on its computer system, and you can receive it by making a request. You can expect to receive the report within a few weeks upon your request.

Check tax return accuracy by using IRS living cost estimates. Avoid rounding down and using pencils.

To fulfill your tax obligations, it is necessary to complete your tax return and submit it to the IRS at the regional office located in your proximity.

Even if you have tax debts, make sure you file your tax return and get in touch with us to explore settlement options that can align with your lifestyle.

Guide – Unfiled Back or Past Due Returns

What happens if you lost your W-2s or 1099’s?

In case you have misplaced your W-2(s) or 1099(s), contact the relevant businesses where you would have received them. Reach out to their payroll department to request copies. Typically, businesses, including employers, banks, and stock brokerages, retain these records for 7 years.

If the business is no longer in operation or didn’t keep copies, you can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to obtain a printout of the data for the year(s) you haven’t filed. While the IRS cannot provide the actual W-2s or 1099s, they can furnish income reports, giving you essential information for your baseline tax amount to report on your taxes. The IRS maintains these income reports on record for 7 years. You’ll be requesting income reports from the IRS.

What are the different ways IRS may contact me you did not file

The IRS initiates contact by sending a letter or notice through the mail to the address they have on record for you. These letters, known as CP notices for the collection process, may indicate that they have no record of your tax return.

If there’s no response to these letters, the IRS may escalate with a phone call or another letter, informing you that you have 30 days to file your returns.

Failure to take corrective actions will trigger a more aggressive process. If the IRS is unable to get you to file through phone calls or letters, a Revenue Officer may visit you.

At this stage, the case will be transferred to the local office to resolve the matter. If you still fail to file, the IRS will prepare your tax return on your behalf. This is referred to as Substitute for Return (SFR).


If the IRS files a Substitute For Return tax returns, they are prepared and filed pursuant to authority granted the Internal Revenue Service by IRC §6020(b) which authorizes the IRS to prepare an individual income tax return on behalf of the taxpayer.

In most cases, the Automated Substitute for Return (ASFR) system is used to evaluate the IRS Master File on the IRS CADE Computer and prepare an SFR for a wage earner or taxpayer without other unresolved taxpayer delinquent accounts.IRS will not do this unless they have repeated tried to contact you.

In order to conserve manpower and financial resources, tax cases having the following criteria will generally be handled by the ASFR system:

  1. The taxpayer is not self-employed;
  2. Total income is less than $100,000; Larger cases will referred to audit,
  3. The income shown on the IRS Information Reporting System totals more than 75% of adjusted gross income and total positive income on the taxpayer’s last filed return;
  4. The tax year is no older than six years prior to the current tax year;
  5. There is no current or pending “uncollectible status” on the account or Criminal indicator on the account.
  6. The taxpayer’s address has been verified. If these conditions do not exist, the matter will be sent to a Revenue Officer in the local field office closest to the taxpayers residence to review and obtain pertinent information prior to referral to the Exam Division for creation of an SFR for the taxpayer. The Revenue Officer has the option to do the SRF also.When I worked for the IRS I often times filed SFR’s for the taxpayers.

Do I still need to file even if I do not owe the IRS?

No!!! filing is not necessary

Are Tax Penalties Deductible on Tax Return?

No, not on your life.

Where do I send late, unfiled or back tax returns to the IRS?

You can find a list of local IRS offices by going to IRS.gov.

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