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I Haven’t Filed My Taxes: What Should I Do?

Filing taxes isn’t easy or particularly fun. It can be tedious and hectic due to the complexity of tax laws. That’s why sometimes people forget to file their taxes or start but never finish. 

The bad news is that you can’t avoid filing your taxes. The good news is that you have opportunities to fulfill your tax obligations even if you’ve missed the deadline. If you realize, “I haven’t filed my taxes,” this blog will provide you with important information and solutions to minimize any negative impact. We’ll delve into the consequences of not filing and offer practical steps to help you get back on track.


Understand the Consequences of Not Filing Taxes

1. Penalties for Late Filing 

If you miss the deadline for filing your taxes or fail to pay on time, you will face penalties. The IRS imposes more severe penalties for not filing your return than for not paying your taxes.  

The Failure to File penalty amounts to 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that the tax return is overdue, capped at 25% of your total unpaid taxes.

The penalty for Failure to Pay, on the other hand, is 0.5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that the tax remains unpaid, with a maximum cap of 25%.

If you incur both penalties in the same month, the Failure to File penalty is decreased by the amount of the Failure to Pay penalty for that period.

If you can’t pay the total amount immediately, alternative payment options are available (more on this in a moment).


2. Interest on Unpaid Taxes 

Another factor to keep in mind is that, in addition to penalties, you will be charged interest on your unpaid taxes. Interest is compounded daily and calculated on the initial amount owed plus any previously accrued interest. The interest rate on unpaid federal taxes is established quarterly and is based on the federal short-term rate plus 3%.

For example, if you owe $500 in unpaid taxes and the federal short-term rate is 1%, the annual interest rate would be 4%. The daily interest rate would then be the annual rate (4%) divided by 365. Here’s how it works:


Daily interest rate: 0.04/365 = 0.01096

Daily Accrual: For the first day, interest would be (500×0.01096) = $0.055

Compounding: On the second day, interest is calculated at $500.055, and so on. 


3. Longer-Term Impact 

Another potential problem you want to avoid is tax liens and levies. If you continue to neglect paying your taxes, you risk facing these serious consequences. A federal tax lien establishes the government’s legal claim against your property, notifying the public that it has a legal claim on your assets, including financial ones, to secure the outstanding debt. Levies, on the other hand, involve the actual seizure of your assets to satisfy the tax debt. This includes taking money from your bank accounts, garnishing wages, or even seizing physical property


First Steps to Take If You Haven’t Filed Your Taxes 

As soon as you realize I haven’t filed my taxes, don’t panic. Instead, take immediate action to address the issue and prevent more serious problems.

First, assess your situation by determining how many years of tax returns you have missed. This will help you understand the scope of the problem and plan your next steps effectively.

Check your records to identify the specific tax years you haven’t filed. This is crucial because the IRS typically requires you to file tax returns for the past six years to be in good standing.

Next, gather all the necessary documentation for each year you missed. Organizing your documents will make the filing process smoother and help ensure accuracy in your returns. If you’re missing any documents, you can request copies from your employer, financial institutions, or directly from the IRS.

By taking these steps, you can start addressing your overdue taxes methodically and reduce the potential stress and penalties associated with late filing.


Consult a Tax Professional 

person saying, "I haven't filed my taxes" to a tax professional


Navigating the complexities of tax regulations can be daunting, and having professional advice is essential for the best results. Without proper knowledge, you risk making mistakes, incurring increased penalties, and missing out on deductions or credits. A tax professional can provide valuable guidance, help you understand your obligations, and develop a strategy to resolve your tax issues efficiently.

At Greenberg Law Group P.A., we know the ins and outs of tax regulations. We tailor effective strategies specific to your situation and provide ongoing support even after resolving immediate issues. This ensures you have the proper knowledge to avoid future problems and maintain compliance with tax laws.


Options Available for Non-Filers

1. File Late Returns 

Filing past-due returns follows the same process as filing on-time returns. First, gather all necessary documentation, such as income statements, bank statements, records of deductions and credits, and investment income reports. Next, obtain the required forms for the years you missed from the IRS website and complete them accurately for each missed year. Finally, submit the completed tax returns to the correct IRS address.

Estimating the interest and penalties you incur is also a good idea so you have an idea of the additional costs. The IRS will calculate the exact amounts once they have received and processed your returns.

If you find the process confusing or overwhelming, consider seeking professional help. Filing your returns accurately and in compliance with regulations is crucial to resolving the issue promptly and avoiding further complications.


2. Negotiate with the IRS 

woman shaking hands with IRS agent over a desk


If paying the total amount is currently not feasible for you, there are options designed to ease the burden on taxpayers. The two main alternatives are Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise.

Install Agreements allow taxpayers to negotiate a plan with the IRS to pay the debt gradually. While the IRS will continue to charge interest on the outstanding amount, it will halt actions like seizure as long as the payments are made according to the agreement. This option provides a structured way to manage your debt over time without the immediate threat of severe collection actions.

Offer in Compromise involves settling your tax debt for less than the total amount owed. This option requires an application and approval from the IRS, which will consider your ability to pay, income, expenses, and asset equity. The process can be complex and typically requires detailed financial disclosure. Professional assistance is highly recommended to navigate this option effectively and increase the likelihood of acceptance.


Preventing Future Tax Issues 

Adjust Withholdings 

One of the best ways to prevent owing a large amount of taxes is by adjusting your withholdings. Ensuring the correct amount of tax is withheld from your paycheck helps you avoid overpaying or missing out on money you could use throughout the year. The IRS’s withholding estimator can help you calculate the right amount to withhold. It’s wise to review your withholding regularly, at least annually, and whenever significant life changes occur, such as getting married or having children, as these events can affect your financial status.


Set Up Reminders and Stay Informed 

Staying organized and informed about tax deadlines and changes in tax laws is crucial for preventing future tax issues. One effective approach is to use digital tools like calendars or apps that send notifications for crucial tax dates, ensuring you never miss a deadline. 

Additionally, regularly checking the IRS website for updates and announcements will help you stay on top of any changes in tax regulations. Following financial news outlets that cover tax-related topics can also provide valuable insights and updates. 

Partnering with a tax attorney is a smart move, as they are well-versed in tax law and stay informed about any changes, ensuring your tax filings remain accurate and compliant. By incorporating these strategies, you can stay ahead of tax deadlines and regulatory changes, minimizing the risk of future tax issues.


“I Haven’t Filed My Taxes!”: Don’t Panic

Paying your taxes on time is essential to prevent issues like financial hardship due to added interest and penalties. However, there are times when we might forget or feel reluctant to file. If you find yourself thinking, “I haven’t filed my taxes,” don’t panic. You still have opportunities to resolve the issue. The most crucial step is to file your taxes immediately to stop incurring additional penalties and interest.

Ideally, you should pay the full amount owed. However, if that’s not feasible, there are alternatives such as installment plans and offers in compromise to help you manage your tax debts more easily.

For the most effective solution, consider hiring a tax attorney. The experts understand the intricacies of tax regulations and can devise the best strategies for your specific case. Contact our team at Greenberg Law Group P.A., and let us assist you with any tax issues you are currently facing.


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