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Haven't Filed Past Returns? IRS May File One for You and It Won't Be Pretty

Article Highlights:

  • Non-Filers 
  • IRS Information Reporting 
  • IRS Prepared Substitute Return 
  • Notice of Deficiency 
  • Tax Court Appeal 
  • Liens and Levies 
There are millions of individuals who do not file a tax return each year, many of them simply because their income is below the filing threshold levels for the year based upon their filing status.

Still others simply procrastinate and risk forfeiting their rightful refunds, including earned income tax credits, child tax credits, tuition credits and excess withholding.

Then there are others who believe they owe, whether they actually do or not, and don’t file because they think they can’t pay what they owe. Not filing on time and owing money can result in a 5% per month (maximum 25%) failure-to-file penalty, plus failure-to-pay penalties and statutory interest in addition to what is owed. It does not make sense to incur unnecessary penalties, especially when the IRS has payment options and, in certain hardship situations, compromise options that may apply.

If you are in the situation just described and think the IRS is not aware of you, think again. The IRS information reporting system knows a lot more about you than you might imagine. Here is just a short list of items that get reported to the IRS’s computer and added to your file:
  • W-2s for wages filed by employers. 
  • W-2Gs for wagering winnings from racetracks, casinos, poker parlors, etc. 
  • 1099-MISC forms from businesses you have contracted with. 
  • 1099-INT and 1099-DIV showing interest and dividends earned from financial accounts. 
  • 1099-B forms showing the gross proceeds from the sales of securities. 
  • 1099-K forms showing the credit card transactions for your business. 
  • 1099-S forms reporting the gross proceeds from sales of real estate. 
  • K-1s from businesses and trusts you are connected with. 
  • Form 8300 transaction forms from banks showing large transactions. 
  • The list goes on and on.
So what does the IRS do with all this information when you haven’t filed a return? Well, if the gross income is enough that they believe you have a filing requirement, the IRS will prepare a substitute return for you based upon the information they have.

This is when things can get really nasty, because the substitute return is based solely on the income reported to the IRS without the benefit of exemptions, itemized deductions, any of the many credits to which you may be entitled, or cost basis for any property or assets sold. In addition, the substitute return will treat you as married filing separate (the filing status for which the higher tax rates kick in quicker).

Along with the substitute return, you will generally receive a notice of statutory deficiency (commonly referred to as a 90-day letter), which will give you 90 days to file an appeal with the Tax Court. At this point things really get expensive because you will need a tax attorney to handle the appeal. If you ignore the 90-day letter or the 90 days run out, the tax assessment becomes final and the IRS can institute liens and levies. Then life really gets miserable. Your credit rating will take a nosedive, liens will be put on your property, and wages and refunds will be attached.

Although there are further remedies, they are increasingly expensive in terms of legal costs. Don’t let things escalate to this point; give this office a call so we can get your past returns filed before you start receiving notices from the IRS. If you’ve already received notices and have been ignoring them, gather them up in chronological order and bring them to the office so we can figure out the next steps required. If you have lost or misplaced past years’ records, we can order a transcript from the IRS that includes the information reported from various sources for each unfiled year. There are even ways to get penalties waived.




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Get to Know Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group)


Offices in Flemington, NJ and Califon, NJ

Our Mission: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we are on a mission to redefine the tax experience for individuals and small businesses. With a focus on personalized service, strategic planning, and expert guidance, we aim to empower our clients to succeed financially with confidence and ease.

Expertise in Action: With a wealth of experience and a team of dedicated professionals, we specialize in individual and small business tax preparation. While we excel in all areas of taxation, our passion lies in serving the unique needs of small business owners in New Jersey. We understand that small business taxation requires specialized knowledge and attention to detail, which is why we go above and beyond to ensure our clients receive the guidance and support they deserve.

Tailored Solutions for Every Client: Whether you're a high-net-worth individual seeking comprehensive tax planning or a small business owner in need of accounting and bookkeeping assistance, we have the expertise to meet your needs. Our team takes the time to understand your specific situation and develop customized solutions that align with your goals and objectives.

Why Choose Us?: What sets us apart from other New Jersey tax firms is our commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of taxation. We don't just prepare tax returns; we provide strategic insights, proactive planning, and actionable advice to help our clients achieve their financial goals. With a team of two CPAs, an EA, and an ERO, we have the expertise and resources to deliver exceptional service and results.

Your Success is Our Priority: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we measure our success by the success of our clients. We are dedicated to building long-lasting relationships, providing unparalleled service, and helping our clients thrive in today's ever-changing tax landscape.

We can't wait for you to experience the Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group) difference.

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