Tax Dictionary – Delinquent Tax Return

IRS Definition

IRS policies state that the enforcement period for delinquent returns and filing requirements 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 IRS resources. 

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Usually, the IRS requires that you file delinquent (late) tax returns for the past six years.

If you don’t file a required tax return by the due date, the IRS will charge you a 5% per month penalty for failing to file. If you owe taxes on the return, the IRS will charge a 0.5% per month failure to pay penalty. Interest will also accrue on any unpaid balance from the day the return was due until the date you pay the tax in full.

The IRS can also file a return for you, called a substitute for return (SFR). The IRS prepares the return based on information it has from your employers, banks, financial institutions and other payers.

If you have a refund due, you must file your tax return within three years of the due date of the return, or you’ll lose your refund.

Learn how to address delinquent tax returns.

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