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Non - Filer Tax Returns
    What is a non-filer?

    Individuals and organizations that have not filed tax returns for many years are often called non-filers. We call it "tax trouble".  These individuals and organizations may never have filed, they may have missed a year of two. As a non-filer they may or may not be in compliance or follow-up action status.

    Each individual that has a filing requirement, must file returns for any missing years.  Failure to file is a crime.  Now we have done our duty and told you the law.  In the real world that is not how it works.  Non-Filers should not assume that all unfiled taxes are subject to a monitored filing requirement. This is very different from the legal requirement to file a tax return. We have outlined a practical approach to determining what must be filed to bring your filing status current.  If the thought of finding all that information is driving you nuts, you can download some of our worksheets.  Why not call 800 677-8297 and listen to free our recorded message!

    Generally, the federal government will require tax returns from 1994 through the current year. Prior years may still be required because of some pending IRS action. Those outstanding actions include balance due years or special monitoring activity.

    The state governments filing requirements vary by state. A check with the state of residence will indicate if any actions are necessary. Often a state tax lien will appear on a credit report. Many states are contracting out the collection efforts. Individual tax compliance does not appear as strong in most of the states. State follow-up is strongest in your state of residence.

    Often non-filers will find that returns have been filed for them. These are called Service Filed Returns (SFR). A taxpayer would have been given official notice of this action at the last known address. These SFR returns often lack the information a taxpayer would have included on a filed return. The tax calculation on a SFR return is usually the highest it could be, plus penalties and interest. The amount due on these returns, usually, can not be bankrupted. Even if the tax has been paid by the taxpayer or through offsets and levies, a return must be filed. If the tax is adjusted and a refund is due, the three year rule for refunds will apply. In our experience it takes from 60 to 120 days to process a filed return and adjust the tax on a SFR filed return.

    Most states have a similar process, often call Notice of Proposed Assessments (NPA). While the title of the document may change, the effect is the same as Internal Revenue Service. There is lots of tax, penalty and interest due. The State of California has two additional charges; a demand penalty and a collection fee. Most states most states will abate (forgive) penalties for cause ( a good reason).

    Contacting the Internal Revenue Service

    The IRS has a new 24 hour customer service number 800 TAX-1040.  This number can be called anywhere, anytime. When you call they will ask some questions. For instance:

      • What is your current address?
      • What are your home and work telephone numbers?
      • Where do you work?
      • Where do you bank?
      • If you owe money, are you prepared to pay the balance in full?

    If you are told you have balances due, do not dispute them with the telephone representative. Find out what returns need to be filed and ask for data if you don't have any. IRS can provide you with copies of W-2 forms. Agree on a due date for filing or a request for more information. If you prepare the returns call IRS and tell them when you mailed the return. This will usually result in a hold on collection action. IRS may ask for an installment plan at this time.

    A federal tax lien may have already been filed. If not already filed the IRS will often file a tax lien as part of a long term payment plan or when the balance is over $10,000. All tax liens will appear on your credit reports until released. These liens only affect your credit and any sales of real estate. A tax lien has no effect on personal property or your automobile.

    If you need tax forms you can get them by calling 800 829-3676 or by downloading from the IRS internet site. The IRS site is always changing, the forms you want may available. FileTax has sources of federal forms from 1992 available for download. Check our forms page, it has special links to other sources of forms. If you have time it is always easier to call an order more forms and instructions than you need.

    Telephone Guidelines

    • Be courteous, don't raise your voice. The telephone representative is giving you information they have on their computer screen.
    • If the representative is unduly harsh or requires payments that you cannot afford, politely ask to speak to a supervisor for a review of the actions taken.
    • If you really can not stand the attitude, hang up and call later or the following day. There are some tough cookies at the IRS.
    • Verify all due dates at the end of the conversation and write them down. Put the dates in you calendar, the IRS did!
    • Three days before the due date call and request more time if needed.
  • Don't refuse to give the IRS representative information they request. They have a legal right to ask for information. This is not the time to argue what is right or wrong!

  • If you want to see what a leading tax attorney and what the CPA's have to say about the non-filer program click on the link. Then please come back to Filetax we are here to help. We are the home of no guilt, no attitude, affordable tax assistance.  If you want to a recorded message on our approach to tax trouble give us a call at 800 677-8297 any time day or night.


This material is provided for general and educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. Individuals who wish to invest in retirement plans should contact their tax and financial advisors regarding their specific legal or tax situation.


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