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Haven't Filed a Tax Return in Years. Now What?

By Taxes Bankrate.com

Dear Tax Talk, I filed my 2011 taxes but have not filed any other year since 2005, I think. I was unemployed for some of that time and now I am getting Social Security Disability. I am so lost on where to start.

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I have gambling winnings in 2006 and 2014 that I need to pay, but don't know how much or how to get the proper paperwork to find out. I doubt that any year would have been one where I owe except for the gambling winnings, but I have quite a bit of losses to offset them.

I struggle with depression and anxiety so when I start thinking about this stuff, I get overwhelmed and shut down. I do not make enough to pay a CPA to help figure this out, so any advice or help would be so appreciated.

Where can I get some IRS help? I need to get this monkey off my back because it is weighing me down quite a bit.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon. -- Sean

Dear Sean, Because of the number of years that may be involved in your situation, the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, or TAC, is where you will start the process of getting this resolved.

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The TAC representative should be able to identify what tax years need to be addressed and even tell you what information the IRS has that was reported by 3rd parties, such as bank interest, gambling winnings, etc. You can locate the nearest TAC by going to the IRS website. Some of the service centers now take appointments, which is much easier than the usual "first come, first served" basis. You will need photo identification and your Social Security number in order to get IRS help.

To keep this project from overwhelming you, try to focus on completing 1 objective at a time. You have already completed step No. 1 by reaching out for this information. So, what's next?

3 steps to prepare for getting IRS help:

  1. Set up a separate file or box, if needed, for each year you missed filing taxes.
  2. Go through all income and expense records and separate them for each year and put them in the file.
  3. Separate the income records from the expense records for each year.

Sounds simple, but I know that this may take lots of time and effort on your part. Just don't give up. Getting organized and knowing what years are involved with the IRS is half the battle. The IRS will guide you on how to proceed with any past-due filings at that point.

Thanks for the great question and all the best to you in getting this project done.

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