Question

I don't know whether or not I should file taxes from previous years. If I didn't file a federal return for the last few years, am I responsible for filing those late returns?

Answer

If you did not meet the filing requirements, you aren’t required to file a federal return. There are gross income thresholds you should check for each year you did not file. Dependents and nondependents have different filing return requirements.

Also, other situations might require you to file return(s), especially if you owe any special taxes like these:

  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
  • Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an IRA, or other tax-favored account. However, if you’re filing taxes only because of this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.
  • Household employment taxes. However, if you file a return only because of this tax, you can file Schedule H by itself.
  • Social Security and Medicare tax on either of these:
    • Tips you didn’t report to your employer
    • Wages you received from an employer who didn’t withhold these taxes
  • Recapture taxes, like the first-time homebuyer credit
  • Write-in taxes, including uncollected Social Security and Medicare or railroad retirement tax on either of these:
    • Tips reported to your employer
    • Group-term life insurance and additional tax on health savings account (HSA) distributions
  • You — or your spouse if filing jointly — received distributions from any of these:
    • HSA
    • Archer MSA
    • Medicare Advantage MSA distributions
  • Net earnings from self-employment of at least 400
  • Wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified organization that’s exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare taxes

Even if you aren’t required to file, you might want to. This way, you can get a refund of any withholding or refundable credits. You usually can still get a refund for up to three years prior. So, for 2017, you can still file for 2016, 2015, and 2014. This will also help you with a net-operating-loss carryover. Then you might take the carryover in future years, when there is enough income to offset it.

If you want to file those prior-year returns, you can’t do it using H&R Block Online. However, you can file prior-year returns in either of these two ways:

  • Talk to a tax professional.
  • Use a prior-year version of H&R Block Software

Related Topics

Related Resources

My children get state assistance and have earned income. Can I claim them as dependents?

Does one or more of your dependents receive income from a job or other source? Learn how this may affect your taxes. Get answers from H&R Block.

I have a question about the mileage deduction rules when filing a tax return. Should I use the standard mileage deducti

Should you take the standard mileage deduction or claim actual expenses? Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.

I have a tax question about how to claim depreciation. How does the depreciation deduction affect itemizing deductions?

Will depreciation affect an itemized deduction? Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.

Child Tax Credit

Learn more about the child tax credit, income phase out rules and claiming additional credits with the tax experts at H&R Block.