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When unfiled returns are piling up, it can become overwhelming. If the taxing authorities are breathing down your neck, you may not be sure what to do. Will filing really fix your problem if you admit—in writing—that you owe the IRS and/or state back taxes?

Unless you are currently being charged with a tax crime and/or have a court date set—in which case you should seek legal counsel—It is likely that you would benefit from a two-pronged, but simultaneous, approach to tackling this problem.

1) Prepare your missing tax returns—starting with the last six years. 

If you are willing and capable of preparing the returns yourself, it is probably wise to do so. If you do not feel comfortable preparing them on your own, you may choose to seek a competent tax preparer who is willing and able to prepare all needed years quickly and accurately. When preparing multiple returns at once, any missed deduction or preparation tactic may be amplified several times over, so it’s important to choose wisely.

At WatchGuard, we are specialists in tax representation; however, we have a longstanding partner relationship with a top-performing tax preparation service with reasonable fees. We can make sure you are referred to them quickly, and are put into good hands.

2) Work with WatchGuard at the same time to address the liability with the IRS and state taxing authorities.

If the return or returns have remained unfiled for a long time, the IRS and many states may have already filed for you, with what the IRS calls a Substitute For Return, or SFR. These SFR returns are generally bare-bones, showing no deductions besides the standard deduction, giving you no credit for dependents or business expenses.

If a substantial penalty and interest (at the highest interest rate the IRS charges) have been attached, the amount can be several times over what you could have owed if you had filed on time.

The IRS and state taxing authorities can and often do collect aggressively on these assessed amounts, regardless of whether or not you feel they are fair or accurate. WatchGuard can engage a strategy to minimize collection efforts while also case planning for an ultimate resolution for your case.

Working together

While you still have unfiled returns, you are deemed “non-compliant,” in the eyes of the IRS, leaving you ineligible for many relief programs—such as Offer in Compromise (Fresh Start), and even payment plans—and making you more vulnerable to collections, such as wage garnishment and bank levies.

This is why the two-pronged approach should be done simultaneously. WatchGuard needs the taxes prepared to accomplish most goals. The tax preparer would likely prefer to have WatchGuard seeking protection from collection actions, advising on overall case strategy, and providing an effective resolution to your tax issue.

WatchGuard will work in harmony with your tax preparer in several ways:

  • WatchGuard communicates with tax authorities to fight for the true returns to be accepted, and the higher-balance SFRs to be replaced.
  • WatchGuard will help clarify which returns are necessary and in what order, and can help prevent you from filing a return when the taxing authority doesn’t require it.
  • WatchGuard can help provide wage and income transcripts, which will assist you and your tax preparer in filing accurate returns.

Take action

If you have unfiled returns, it is imperative that you address this issue head-on, as quickly as possible. Avoiding the problem will likely only make it worse.

In addition to all the headaches listed above, unfiled returns can even affect you outside the tax world, potentially making you ineligible for things like mortgage approval, business loans, even bankruptcy. For some, passport renewal and legal immigration status can be in jeopardy as well.

It’s time to take the first step in putting this tax trouble behind you.

Contact WatchGuard today to learn more about your options for tax preparation and representation. You can handle all your needs with one call.

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