What Happens if I Haven’t Filed a Tax Return in Years?

*The following article was updated in March 2024*

I had a client call yesterday who hadn’t filed a business tax return for three years, and hadn’t filed his individual tax return for three years. This becomes overwhelming to people. What do you do? What’s the next step? The most important thing is to take a deep breath; you’re going to be fine. We’re going to get through this one foot in front of the other. It’s like walking into a gym and saying I want to lose 100 pounds on the first day. It’s not going to happen. Whenever you have a tax situation, you owe money to the government, you haven’t filed tax returns, you need somebody to help walk you through the process step by step.

As a tax attorney, I don’t prepare tax returns. I like to refer that out to CPAs Enrolled Agents, accountants that can help with the preparation of the tax returns. I like to use the accountants and the CPAs to help navigate the next step. We use that information, whether you’re $10 or $10 million, you still have to go through the same steps with the IRS or the state agency to get set up on a payment plan to get set up on some sort of step installment agreement, potentially placed the account on hold, and in some cases, potentially file for bankruptcy. But it’s important to understand all of the options that a business or an individual has.

Author Photo

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.

Read More Articles By Allison Soares