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    I didn't file taxes for 10 years

    Asked Aug 19, 2007, 04:44 PM 15 Answers
    I am a single women that has lived with my sister for 10 years. In that time, I have always worked cash jobs. Since 1997, I have not filed a tax return or paid income tax at all. Now I am scared. I don't have any money and I barely make ends meet.
    I just started working at a factory where taxes are being taken out. Come April 15, 2008, what should I do about the last 10 years of not filing? Can I get in trouble with the IRS?

    Last edited by angela0191; Aug 19, 2007 at 06:09 PM.
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #2

    Aug 21, 2007, 12:46 PM


    Angela:

    If you worked for cash jobs and NEVER got a W-2 in January of the following year, there is NO PAPER TRAIL that shows you ever made any money.

    If there is no paper trail, the IRS has no way of knowing how much money you earned. In fact, as far as they are concerned, you did not exist those ten years.

    Now, you SHOULD have filed tax returns for those years. However, if you made less than $8,000 each year, you probably owed ZERO income tax or only a minimal amount of FICA taxes.

    BTW, there are millions of people in circumstances similar to yours.

    BOTTOM LINE: Do not worry about it. The IRS is NOT all-knowing and all-seeing. Start filing your tax return next year, and welcome to the party of American taxpayers!
    Helpful (1)
    Mobea's Avatar
    Mobea Posts: 220, Reputation: 15
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    #3

    Aug 22, 2007, 09:24 AM
    LOL Great answer ATE
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #4

    Aug 22, 2007, 10:39 AM


    Glad to liked it!
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    angela0191's Avatar
    angela0191 Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Sep 6, 2007, 02:32 PM
    Hi Atlanta Tax Expert,

    I have another concern regarding my tax situation.
    I did receive my pay by personal checks for a few of years, I had a bank account and a car payment as well. Do I still have no worries for the ten years I didn't file?

    Thank you in advance!

    Angela
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #6

    Sep 7, 2007, 07:48 PM


    Angela:

    Not likely. Like I said, the IRS has BIGGER fish to fry than you.
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    angela0191's Avatar
    angela0191 Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Sep 9, 2007, 12:27 PM
    Thanks again!

    Angela
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #8

    Sep 10, 2007, 08:17 AM
    Glad to help!
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    backwardsman's Avatar
    backwardsman Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Sep 12, 2007, 03:53 PM
    I am in a similar situation as Angela. This is my story - I am a 40 y/o man and I have not been on a payroll since 1990. In the last 18 years I have worked as a musician and have done handyman work for friends and family - all for cash and some personal checks plus I received a few 1099‘s. I have not filed taxes with the IRS since 1990. Throughout the 90’s, I battled with drugs, alcohol and depression and became completely detached from reality.
    I feel that I have buried myself by hiding from the IRS and I don’t know how to get out of my current situation. I am scared to file thinking the IRS will question where I have been for the last 18 years and put me in prison. Honestly, I have had a rough life, I don’t have any money and I have always lived with the financial aid of a girlfriend. I did have auto loans, credit cards, bank accounts, apartments and utilities in my name.

    Will the IRS question how I have been paying the bills all these years?
    What should I do to clear this mess?

    Thanks

    Scared Man
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #10

    Sep 13, 2007, 11:00 AM
    Contact me via email with the following information:

    - Estimate on how much you made each year.
    - Which years have 1099s, and how much each year on 1099s.

    I can advise you once I have this info.
    Helpful
    backwardsman's Avatar
    backwardsman Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #11

    Sep 13, 2007, 01:51 PM
    Hi Atlanta Tax Expert,

    I would like help via the forum only because email is traceable. Please understand, I don't know who to trust with my situation.

    I would say I made 10 to 20k per year by cash and personal checks.
    (1099's) about 10k in 1992 and 20k in 1993

    I don't know exactly how much money I've made. I never kept track. (Barely enough to live)

    Thanks
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    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #12

    Sep 15, 2007, 10:47 AM
    If the IRS has not tracked you down by now for returns in 1992 and 1993, they are not going to. They usually purge their files after twelve years.
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    backwardsman's Avatar
    backwardsman Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Sep 19, 2007, 05:20 PM
    Atlanta Tax Expert,

    What do I do to get back on track?
    Do I contact an accountant?
    Will I have to file for prior years?

    I don't want to continue living my life like this, I really want to get my life together.

    Thanks for the advice!
    Helpful
    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #14

    Sep 20, 2007, 10:28 AM
    If it were me in this situation, I would file for 2004, 2005 and 2006, the three years that I am eligible to receive a refund. I suspect that you probably qualify for the Earned Income Credit for those years.

    Any competent tax professional can help you reconstruct your income from those years. I AM available to do this work, but if you want a face-to-face interchange, you should use an independent tax professional in your area.

    Filing prior to 2004 is, in my opinion, a waste of time, because any refund due for tax years prior to 2004 has already been forfeited by law. If the IRS then wants you to file previous years, they will let you know. Based on what you have told me and my experience with past due returns, it is extremely unlikely they have any records prior to 1996. With no paper trail, they will simply assume that you did earn enough to file for the years prior to 2004.

    There MAY be some monetary penalties assessed if they determine you owe money, though that is extremely unlikely. There will be NO CHANCE for jail time; the IRS has bigger fish to fry!

    Again, if you want my help professionally, contact me via email.
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    backwardsman's Avatar
    backwardsman Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #15

    Sep 21, 2007, 12:20 PM
    Thanks for all your advice!
    Helpful
    AtlantaTaxExpert's Avatar
    AtlantaTaxExpert Posts: 21,405, Reputation: 823
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    #16

    Sep 22, 2007, 01:02 PM
    Glad to help!
    Helpful

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