Unfortunately, there is a limit to how old you can file a tax return to request refunds and tax credits. This IRS only allows you to apply for tax refunds and credits within three years of the original due date of the tax return. If you don't file your return within three years of the due date, you could end up not receiving a tax refund because you can no longer apply for lucrative tax credits or any additional withholding from your paycheck. You risk losing your refund if you don't file your return.
If you are due a refund for withholding or estimated taxes, you must file your return to claim it within 3 years of the due date of the return. The same rule applies to the right to apply for tax credits, such as the earned income credit. The main reason for filing several tax returns at once is to file back taxes. You have three years from the original due date to file and receive any refund the IRS owes you, but you'll still have to file it even if it's been more than three years.
If you owe taxes, you'll owe the money, plus the penalties and the interest, no matter how many years have passed. Self-employed people have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes through their individual income tax returns. Whether you file your return manually or rely on tax preparation software or a professional service provider, all of this documentation will be essential to accurately declare your taxes and reduce your taxable income. You can also choose to reach a settlement agreement or any type of income tax forgiveness that may apply to you.
Review the tax forms you collect for the year of the tax return you file to make sure you are using the correct forms. Form 4506-T allows you to request a transcript of your tax return information, even if you haven't filed a tax return. However, the IRS only allows you to apply for tax refunds and credits within three years of the original due date of the tax return. Then, you'll need to submit each form, along with the amount you owe in taxes plus interest and penalties, to meet your tax obligations.
If you receive a letter from the IRS stating the tax liability or the penalties and interest for tax returns from previous years that were not filed, it is important to follow the instructions in the notice. You'll also need to research the tax laws related to those years, which will require some work if you're not going to hire a tax preparer. If you are having difficulty preparing your return, you may be eligible for help through the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Often, those looking for ways to file a tax return for previous years receive an evaluation from the IRS notifying them of the amount due.