As a former IRS agent I am asked this question many times, “If I have not filed tax returns for many years how far back will  IRS want me to file?


As you read this blog will find out that IRS has a policy statement. P – 5 – 133. this is a very important policy statement.


This process is not as bad as you think as a general rule the most IRS will go back will be six years. I will attempt to answer several questions for you if you are concerned or worried about not filing tax returns for many years.

It is not as bad as you think.. We have worked thousands of cases and the fear freezes and overwhelms many taxpayers.

The next step is to pick up the phone call someone and start the process.

It is an easy and seamless process and if you owe money there’s gonna be an exit strategy that can provided for you.

You should also know that if you do not file your tax returns IRS will file your tax returns for you and this you do not want to happen.


Under 6020 B of the Internal Revenue Code, the Internal Revenue Service has a right to file your back tax return under this code section.

(a) Preparation of return by Secretary

If any person shall fail to make a return required by this title or by regulations prescribed thereunder, but shall consent to disclose all information necessary for the preparation thereof, then, and in that case, the Secretary may prepare such return, which, being signed by such person, may be received by the Secretary as the return of such person.

(b) Execution of return by Secretary

(1) Authority of Secretary to execute return

If any person fails to make any return required by any internal revenue law or regulation made thereunder at the time prescribed therefor, or makes, willfully or otherwise, a false or fraudulent return, the Secretary shall make such return from his own knowledge and from such information as he can obtain through testimony or otherwise.

(2) Status of returns

Any return so made and subscribed by the Secretary shall be prima facie good and sufficient for all legal purposes.


How many back unfiled years do I have to File?


As a general rule, IRS can go back six years. No matter how far back you have not filed back taxes, the IRM policy statement P – 5– 133 clearly states that the IRS expects the taxpayer to file the last six years, but there are exceptions to that and sometimes you do not have to file that many returned.

Enforcement Period for unfiled back tax returns

Policy Statement 5-133 (P-5-133), IRM, Delinquent returns—enforcement of filing requirements, discusses delinquent returns and the enforcement filing requirements.
The enforcement period is not to be more than six years.

However, the extent to which delinquency procedures will be enforced will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, and by reference to factors ensuring evenhanded administration of staffing and other Service resources.

Enforcement for longer or shorter periods may be used when consideration has been given to:

The taxpayer’s prior history of noncompliance.
The existence of income from illegal sources.
The effect upon voluntary compliance.
The anticipated revenue in relation to the time and effort, required to determine tax due.
Any special circumstances existing in the case of a particular taxpayer, class of taxpayer, or industry, or which may be peculiar to the class of tax involved.


Is six years absolutely mandatory if  if I have unfiled tax returns for years?

Not necessarily. This is done on a case-by-case basis.

As former IRS Agents we understand the protocols and the methodologies in cases where we will only file the last three years. I will not publicly disclose this information, but because of our knowledge will discuss this with you privately depending on your case and many times we feel very confident the IRS will  accept the last three years in certain cases.


What information does the Internal Revenue Service use to file my tax return if I have not filed?

The Internal Revenue Service uses wage records comprising of 1099s, W-2s and other income documents that certain companies are required to keep and report to IRS at the end of the year by January 31.

IRS will prepare your return as single, so you have to pay the most amount allowed by law. They will give you the standard deduction and give you no expenses, dependents, or any other write-offs so they will impose against you the highest possible tax rate possible.


What happens if I never got the notice from my Internal Revenue Service that they were going to file my tax return?

You have the right to file original tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Yes, all you do is file your original tax returns. We can prepare your tax returns with or without records.


What happens if I have no have business tax records?

It is very unfortunate but many times taxpayers lose their records, have floods, have disasters or have just been plain lazy, they have been self-employed they have failed to file their tax returns and just have no tax records. As a former IRS agent I have heard millions upon millions of excuses, whether I believe them or not is a different story, but the reality is it makes no difference.

In this case, we can prepare your tax returns based on reconstructive methods.

Our former IRS agents and managers and supervisors can prepare your back tax returns if you have had no tax records because we know the reconstructive process and we can assure you pay the least amount allowed by law.


What happens if I am going to owe taxes as a result of unfiled tax returns for many many years.


We can collection plan so IRS doesn’t take your firstborn, all your assets, and everything else of value. At the same time we are preparing your back tax returns, we are already preparing a collection exit strategy so your case is already all mapped out.


If I am going to owe back taxes how will IRS deal with me on paying the back taxes?

When you owe back taxes IRS has to close your case off  of the IRS enforcement computer.

There are three general ways IRS closes most of their cases off the collection system. They will close them by;

1. a tax hardship,

2. by a payment agreement, or,

3. the acceptance of an offer in compromise.

When you call our office we will walk you through different programs and what it takes to qualify for each.


If I Have Not Filed Tax Returns For Many Years, How Far Back Will IRS Want Me To File ?

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Mr. Michael D. Sullivan

Michael D. Sullivan is the founder of MD Sullivan Tax Group. He had a distinguished career with the Internal Revenue Service for 10 years. As a veteran IRS Revenue Officer / Agent, he served as an Offer in Compromise Tax Specialist and Large Dollar Case Specialist.

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