I Didn’t File My Tax Return – Am I Going to Jail?

What really happens if you don’t file your tax returns?

If you haven’t filed your federal and state income tax return for this year or previous you could be in big trouble. Don’t mess with the IRS. But you’re in luck, here is what you need to do to get back in the IRS’ good graces.



There’s all sorts of tools and resources available on our website but also on the IRS.gov. They have an Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA), FAQs and Tax Trails.

But Tax Man, I’m not sure if I even need to file my taxes. Ok, well then you had better go here and figure that out firsts. Visit Do I Need to File a Tax Return or check out Pub 17, it’s not a hip new beer joint, it’s a document called Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals. Read it if you’re still not sure.

But Tax Man, what if I can’t pay the tax I owe. Ok, so if you are required to file a return, but you can’t pay the full amount of tax due, the IRS might allow you to get on a payment plan. For more info on your payment options, refer to this handy IRS guide.

If you don’t file it will cost you.

If your return was not filed by the due date (including extensions of time to file), you may be subject to the failure to file penalty (unless you have reasonable cause for your failure to file timely). If you did not pay your tax in full by the original due date of the return (regardless of extensions of time to file), you may also be subject to the failure to pay penalty (again unless you have reasonable cause for your failure to pay timely). Additionally, you could also be charged interest on the taxes you haven’t paid by the due date, even if you filed an extension. Remember an extension is only an extension to file not to pay. And finally to add insult to injury, interest is also charged on the penalties.

There’s some good news. If you don’t owe any tax and are instead due a refund there is no penalty for failure to file. But, don’t wait. If you delay in filing your return and claiming your refund, you are at risk of losing your refund altogether. The original return which claims a refund must be filed within 3 years of the due date in order for a refund to be allowed (in most instances). After the three-year window closes, the refund statute prevents the issuance of a refund check and the application of any credits, which includes overpayments of estimated taxes and/or extra withholding taxes. However, the IRS plays by different rules. The statute of limitations for the IRS to assess and collect any outstanding balances does not start until a return has been filed. If you file your return the statute of limitations starts and is ten years. Another reason to get that return filed ASAP.

Finally, if you need help actually preparing and filing the return that’s what we do here at PTF Tax – Help people file and prepare their tax returns. Contact us or schedule a meeting today to see how we can help.

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