Filing Past Due Tax Returns

Filing Past Due Tax Returns

File all overdue tax returns, whether or not you can pay in full. File your past return to the same location, and the same way would normally file your return.

If you have received a notice, please ensure that you send your past due return to the location specified on the notice you received.

Why you should file the past due return now

Regardless of whether you can pay your tax debt in full, you must file all overdue tax returns. To do this, file your past return the same way you would normally file your return. 

If you have received a notification from the IRS, be sure to send the overdue income tax return to the location indicated in the notification you received.

Consider these reasons for filing past returns:

  • If you owe taxes, filing your past due return immediately and paying your tax obligations can limit interest and late payment penalties.

  • If you overpaid and are entitled to a refund for eligible source deductions, estimated taxes, or tax credits, you risk losing the refund if your return is not filed within three years from the due date.

  • If you are self-employed and do not file your taxes and pay no taxes on your own, you will not receive credit for your Social Security and Medicare benefits.

  • Suppose you are not aware of your income tax returns. In that case, you may not be eligible or face delays in getting loans, mortgages, or other financial benefits, such as federal assistance for higher education, because financial institutions generally require copies of income tax returns.

If you owe more than you can pay, you can request additional time to pay your bill in full through the Online Payment Agreement app or by calling 800-829-1040 or using the phone number on your invoice or notice. If you still need more time to pay, you can request an installment contract or get an offer in compromise.

If you can make a payment, use IRS direct payment or check other payment options at

Avoid interest and penalties.

File your past due tax return and pay now to limit interest and late fees.

Claim a refund

You may lose your refund if you do not file your return. If you are eligible for a refund for withholding or estimated taxes, you must file your request within three years of the due date. The same rule applies to the right to claim tax credits, such as the earned income credit.

Protect social security benefits

Suppose you are self-employed and do not file a federal income tax return. In that case, any self-employed income you receive will not be reported to the Social Security Administration, and you will not receive insurance pension credits or disability benefits.

Avoid the hassle of getting loans.

Loan approval may be delayed if you do not file your tax returns. Copies of filed tax returns should be sent to financial institutions, creditors/mortgage brokers, etc., whenever you want to buy or refinance a home, get a business loan, or apply for federal higher education assistance.

If you owe more than you can pay

If you cannot pay what is owed, it may take another 60 to 120 days to pay your bill in full using the online payment agreement form or by calling 800-829-1040; no user fee will be charged. If you need more time to pay, you can request an installment contract or get an offer in compromise.

What happens if you do not voluntarily file your return?

Substitute return

If you fail to file, you can ask a tax expert to file a substitute return for you. This return may not give you credit for any deductions and exemptions for which you may be eligible. But a notice of deficiency CP3219N (90-day letter) will be sent to you, proposing a tax assessment. You will have 90 days to file your past-due tax return or file a tax court claim. If you received the CP3219N notification, you cannot request an extension to file.

If any of the items listed are incorrect, you can do the following:

  • Contact the IRS.

  • Contact the payer (source) to request a corrected W-2 or 1099 form.

  • Attach the correct forms when sending the completed tax returns.

If the IRS files a substitute tax return, you must still file the tax return to take advantage of the exemptions, credits, and deductions that you are eligible to receive. The IRS will usually adjust the account to reflect the correct numbers.

Collection and enforcement actions

The return will result in a tax bill, which will trigger the collection process if not paid. This can include a levy on your salary or a bank account or filing a federal tax forfeiture notice.

If you fail to file multiple times, you may be subject to additional enforcement actions, such as additional penalties and/or prosecution.

Help to file your past due return.

If you need wages and income information to prepare a return, complete Form 4506-T and check the box on line 8. You can also contact your employer or payer.

If you need information on a previous year's tax return, request a tax return or statement of account.

Already filed your past due return?

If you have received a notice, you must send a copy of the past due return to the provided address. 



Contact Member