While life can get in the way and cause you to miss filing timely tax returns, the IRS is notoriously unsympathetic when it comes to money they allege you owe. While filing late or having a backlog of unfiled returns can seem overwhelming, following these steps can protect you and your assets.
- If the filing deadline has not yet passed, file an extension. This free form is included in most tax processing software and available from the IRS website. While it will not stop interest from accruing on any monies you may owe, it tells the IRS that you are not simply ignoring the deadline, and the extensions are almost always automatically granted. This usually gives you until October to file returns due in April.
- If the filing deadline has passed, but you have not yet been contacted by the IRS, file the returns immediately. Better late than never is the idea here. Filing proactively, even if late, will not automatically erase late filing penalties or interest, but it will prevent them from getting worse. It is important to file, even if you cannot pay the amount due. You can usually arrange a payment plan with the IRS, but they will not work with you unless you are current on all filings.
- If you have been contacted by the IRS, respond immediately. Delaying or hiding is not going to make the IRS go away. You can’t outwait them – they are persistent and have the power to garnish your wages and seize your property. The very worst thing you can do is pretend it isn’t happening. Instead, call the number in the letter you received and ask for a delay in collection activity while you obtain representation. This will give you a chance to speak with a knowledgeable tax attorney and get the help you need to resolve your situation.
- Save all documentation. Keep copies of all correspondence you receive from the IRS. Don’t throw anything away, but make sure to take note of dates, deadlines, and instructions in the letter. Failure to meet these deadlines or complete the instructions will only serve to worsen your problem.
Make an appointment with an experienced tax attorney. If you are in the Kansas City area, I will do everything I can to help you resolve your tax situation in the most favorable way. If you are not local to me, seek out an experienced tax attorney in your area. Without the help of an attorney, you could end up paying thousands of dollars more than you need—or worse, lose your property, good credit, and access to your wages. Don’t let that happen to you or your family. Call a tax lawyer before it’s too late!