There are several reasons why people do not file their taxes, and while most of them are acceptable, the fact of the matter is that even late or back taxes eventually need to be filed. Filing back taxes will in fact, alleviate or altogether avoid future problems with the IRS. Whether you have only missed filing for a single year or you have not done so since the mid 1980s, the IRS still requires that you file your taxes. In the end, it will be to your benefit, as doing so lowers the risk of being prosecuted by the IRS.
Here's a great question from a reader. Unfiled tax returns can be a real problem. Many people don't realize it but the IRS can (and will) file Substitute for Returns (SFRs) for people who don't get around to filing their tax returns. This video covers what to do if you're a non-filer. Watch the video for the question and it's answer…
Usually the IRS wants your money, however unclaimed refunds totaling approximately $1.2 billion are awaiting nearly 1.3 million people who failed to file a federal income tax return for the tax year 2004. However, to collect the money, a return for 2004 must be filed with an IRS office no later than October 15, 2008. Those due a refund who did not file a 2004 tax return could collect even more money by also filing a 2007 tax return to claim the economic stimulus payment. The IRS estimates that half of those who could claim refunds for tax year 2004 would receive more than $552. In some cases, individuals had taxes withheld from their wages, or made payments against their taxes out of self-employed earnings, but had too little income to require filing a tax return. Some taxpayers may also be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years plus extensions, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2004 returns, the window closes on October 15, 2008.
So you didn't file your tax return this year. Maybe you forgot, maybe you didn't have the money to pay your balance due, or maybe you thought you could beat the system. The IRS doesn't really care, need, or want an explanation as to "why" you didn't file. If you don't file, you're setting yourself up for a bigger problem down the road. Here's what happens when you don't file: penalties, interest and possibly jail.
Laws for Non-filers
Not filing your tax returns for a year or more, will undoubtedly alert the IRS and you will be classified as a non-filer. If you have acquired this status, you have IRS Problems. Whether you have not filed because you procrastinated, you did not have the money to pay the taxes you owed, or you just have chosen not to file, the IRS will catch up with you and you will pay the penalties.