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Ask the Experts

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Q:
How should I go about contacting the IRS if I haven't filed taxes in years?

I haven't filed income taxes for eight years. I don't think I owe anything, but I'm still nervous about contacting the IRS. I don't know what to expect. Should I get a CPA to do this for me? -Stacy

Dear Stacy,

Whether you have to file a tax return depends on your filing status, age, and income. From the IRS web site, listed below are the filing status, age, and amount of gross income that would require you to file.

  1. Single, under 65, and your gross income was at least $7,200
  2. Single, 65 or over, and your gross income was at least $8,300.
  3. Married, filing a joint return, you and your spouse were both under 65, and your gross income was at least $12,950.
  4. Married, filing a joint return, one spouse is 65 or over, and your gross income was at least $13,800.
  5. Married, filing a joint return, both you and your spouse were 65 or over, and your gross income was at least $14,650.
  6. Married, filing a separate return, and your gross income was at least $2,800, regardless of your age.
  7. Head of household, under 65, and your gross income was at least $9,250.
  8. Head of household, 65 or over, and your gross income was at least $10,350.
  9. Qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child, you were under 65, and your gross income was at least $10,150.
  10. Qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child, you were 65 or over, and your gross income was at least $11,000.

Unless you fall into one of the categories, there is no need to worry! If you did fall into one of the categories during any of the past eight years, you should file your past returns as soon as possible. Continuing to ignore the situation will only make things worse.

I recommend contacting the IRS at 800.829.1040. They are there to help you and can even make payment arrangements if necessary. If in fact you do not owe any past taxes, there are no penalties or fines. Wouldn’t that be a relief?!

It would also be important to address the issue that brought you to this spot. Was your income extremely low? Were you in school? While paying taxes is not the favorite thing for any one, it is part of your budget.

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