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I Haven’t Filed My Tax Returns and the IRS is Coming After Me

*The following article was updated in March 2024*

For many individuals, April 15 tends to be as big of a day on the calendar as New Year’s Day or Independence Day. The national tax filing deadline means that your taxes must be filed and fees paid on or by April 15 to avoid penalties.

With the passage of the Trump Tax Reform Plan in December 2017, the tax year 2018 is shaping up to be quite different from years past. This year, many people owe money to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), even if you’ve never owed money in the past. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone.

Here are three things you can do to help remedy your tax burden and plan ahead for 2019.

Secure a Payment Plan

For individuals that owe less than $50,000, the IRS generally offers monthly payment plans in which they will allow you to pay the taxes you owe monthly over 72 months. You should apply to the IRS for a payment plan or an installment agreement. Generally, the IRS will allow you to set up a streamlined payment plan with no lien filed under certain conditions. If you owe more than $50,000, there are many options.

File for an Extension

Every taxpayer has the opportunity to file for an extension, which pushes back the tax filing deadline to October 15. If you find yourself nearing April 15 and your taxes are not near ready to be filed, file for an extension as soon as possible. If you fail to obtain an extension, you could be faced with late-filing penalties that amount to up to five percent of the amount owed.

If you did not file an extension but don’t owe the IRS money – meaning you are getting a tax refund – then there is no payment for failing to file your tax returns by the deadline. That being said, you will not receive your refund until you file taxes. So it’s best to file when you can (even after April 15) so you can receive your refund.

However, if you do owe money, you will owe that amount plus interest starting April 15. The extension of time to file does not mean you have an extension to pay the amount until October 15. You owe the amount and interest beginning April 15, and the IRS will expect you to calculate that amount.

Check your 2019 Withholdings

Be aware that if your withholdings were not sufficient for 2018, we are now in the fourth month of 2019 and you may already be behind on your 2019 withholdings. Check to make sure that you have sufficient withholdings for 2019.

When it comes to taxes and owing to the IRS money, many taxpayers opt for avoiding the problem altogether and not filing their tax returns. While dealing with the IRS is a scary prospect, this is not the best choice for your financial future. Talk to an experienced tax attorney if you need help working with the IRS to file an extension or secure a payment plan. The IRS waters are tough to navigate, but they can be waded through with help and experience.

Allison Soares is a partner and tax attorney at Vanst Law. It doesn’t matter the issue: audits, collections, appeals, international disclosures, grumpy people— Allison enjoys fixing tax problems. In addition to her legal work, she has worked in accounting and utilizes that knowledge to her advantage while handling cases involving the IRS and state tax problems.

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Allison Soares

Allison Soares, a renowned tax attorney, excels in representing clients before the IRS, FTB, EDD, and CDTFA. With a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a transformative teaching stint in Brazil, Allison’s diverse background enriches her legal expertise. She pursued law at St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami, complementing it with an MBA in accounting and forensic accounting. Further honing her skills, she obtained a Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law. As an adjunct professor at San Diego State University, Allison imparts her knowledge in tax procedures, practice, and ethics. Her accolades include being named Best of the Bar by the San Diego Business Journal and multiple Super Lawyer recognitions. Committed to community service, she volunteers with Forever Balboa Park and Friends of Balboa Park. Allison’s authoritative contributions in tax law are showcased through her publications and speaking engagements.

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