Do you have past due tax returns? If so, you’re not alone. While the IRS does not publish statistics on this, nor are they really able to track this number, but my own research and statistical analysis (because I’m a numbers geek and do stuff like that), estimates that there are between 5 and 8 million outstanding personal income tax returns in the United States for the past three years alone.
If you owe a tax debt to the government and are seeking to get that situation resolved, you will first need to file any missing returns. The IRS will NOT negotiate a payment plan or a reduced settlement if you have past due tax returns. The reason for this is pretty simple: If you don’t file the returns, they don’t know how much you really owe.
While any tax preparer, CPA, or Enrolled Agent can probably assist you with filing your past due tax returns, it is important to note that many of these tax preparers focus their practices solely on current year tax return filings. Since the tax laws change literally every year, it’s a daunting task just to keep up with the tax code for the current year, so many tax preparers don’t bother trying to keep up with prior year tax matters.
A firm that specializes in taxpayer representation, on the other hand, often does exactly the opposite. Many of these firms don’t even offer current year tax return preparation. Since the tax code as applicable to prior years is fixed and no longer changes, they can maintain their skills and knowledge on prior years quite readily since they focus almost exclusively on preparing older tax returns. This lack of change in the past tax code and their experience preparing these returns also lets them complete them fairly quickly, since they don’t have to spend time researching the old laws, and therefore you don’t have to pay for that research time, keeping their fees reasonable for this sort of service.
Search our directory of taxpayer representation firms to find a tax professional in your area that specializes in preparing back tax returns.