Do you have an income? Have you been consistently filing your tax return every year on time? If not, just know that though they may be slow to act, the IRS is a highly efficient government agency and you risk facing fines, penalties, and even criminal prosecution if you fail to file all your tax returns. Filing your tax returns is not only your public duty, but it is to your advantage if you want to avoid trouble. This article will describe just how easy it is to file back taxes in a few easy steps.
Step 1 - Which Years?
Your first step in filing back taxes is to find out which years you did not file your returns. If you are unsure of which years you failed to send your returns, you can simply ask the IRS directly or visit their official website. If the IRS tells you there are years you missed yet you remember filing, do not worry. Simply send an amendment form (form 1040 X) instead of sending another form 1040 as this will lead to duplication and make the IRS agents start a new investigation process to ascertain which form is real.
Step 2 - Gather Your Documents
Collect all copies of your previous tax returns and all other tax documents. Organize all your W-2 forms and if any are missing, or any other tax documents, ask for copies from the IRS. They will post them to you for free. Find all relevant receipts for the years to be filed and prepare all relevant documents.
Step 3 - Prepare the Tax Returns
If you feel you are unable to deal with the complexities of your tax returns, you can hire a tax professional. Otherwise, if you feel capable, document your income and expenditure documents and start filling out the necessary forms. You can also use specialized taxation software that will guide you through the process of preparing your late tax returns.
Step 4 - Send in Your Returns
Once you have prepared your tax returns you now have to file them with the IRS. Take note that the IRS does not accept any electronic submissions. All your tax returns have to be made on paper even if you used electronic means to prepare them. Use the standard forms supplied by the IRS through their website. Send in your back tax returns in separate envelopes for each year. And to make sure they are all received and you keep proof of receipt, send the envelopes through certified mail to your local IRS service centre. Another option is to hand deliver them yourself and if you choose this option, make photocopies of your returns and request the receiving agent to stamp the copies as received. This provides you evidence that your returns were received, by whom, and at what IRS center. If you are still confused, then you can get back tax help by consulting a professional.
Do not be afraid to go to the IRS to check on the status of your previous tax returns. By going to them rather than waiting for them to find you first, you are safe from prosecution. Filing your back taxes will not only clear your conscience, but will also safeguard any tax returns the IRS may owe you.