How to file back tax returns


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If you have unfiled tax returns from prior years, the first thing that you need to do is to file the returns. This may seem like an obvious statement, and you may very well feel overwhelmed at the mere thought of filing back taxes. You may have missed filing a single return or have years of unfiled back taxes. No matter how grim you feel the situation is or how overwhelming the task of filing the returns may be, the best way to resolve the situation is to deal with it.

You must first recognize that you are not the only one that is facing this dilemma. Many individuals fail to file tax returns, and there is a multitude of reasons that a person fails to file. Whatever the reason for not filing, the resolution for dealing with the issue is one and the same, and that is to file the back returns and catch up on Form 5500-EZ. 

Here are the basic three steps that you will need to follow to file the back tax returns:

  • Obtain the tax return form for the exact year or years that you need to file. Since tax laws change every year, the forms will also change with any given year. You can get these forms from your local IRS office, an online resource, or a certified tax professional.
  • Gather Financial History. Collect your wages and earnings statements (W2), miscellaneous income statement (1099), and any other document that would represent your income for the year that you need to file. You will also want to collect any receipts or statements that may be deductible expenses that you incurred for the year. If you do not have any of the financial history documents, you may want to contact a tax professional that specializes in preparing back tax returns to assist you in documenting the financial history.
  • Complete the Return and Mail it In. Complete the return to the best of your ability, sign and date it, and mail it to the address that is listed on the return. If you are filing multiple years of returns, mail each return separately. If you have hired a representative or tax professional to assist you, they will likely take care of doing this for you.

After you have filed your back tax returns, the IRS will contact you or your representative with an assessment of what is owed.Certainly, one of life’s greatest headaches is associated with paying taxes and filing Form 2553. Keeping records, using the right forms, understanding the instructions, doing the math, and writing that final check is generally not a happily anticipated life event.

And if just preparing your annual federal and state tax returns causes your temples to pound, then an unexpected letter of inquiry from the IRS or an audit notice will create a headache of migraine proportions. Keeping straight on your taxes is not easy when you have the money to pay what you owe—and when you can’t afford to pay, your problems are multiplied exponentially.


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