Many people, when it's time to file their annual tax returns, use simple programs like TurboTax, Intuit, or drop by their local H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt storefront. If you're current in your taxes, and have a fairly simple return, there's nothing wrong with this strategy—but it can be a serious mistake if you failed to file tax returns in past years and are now trying to rectify your error.
If, for example, you neglected to file your taxes from 2007 to 2009, you may feel the need to head off that dreaded IRS collection notice by biting the bullet and filing them now (on the premise of “better late than never”). To do this successfully, you'll have to somehow reconstruct your financial records for those years, including bills, pay stubs, and receipts, and you'll also have to educate yourself about changes in federal, state, and local tax laws over the last five years! Last, but not least, by filing these tax returns, you will be alerting the IRS that you were remiss in the past—and the government will pore over these documents with the proverbial magnifying glass to make sure you're telling the truth.
A basic computer program, or an H&R Block tax preparer, is simply not equipped to deal with the issues involved in filing past-due tax returns. What you need to do is consult an experienced tax lawyer who can gauge the extent of your malfeasance (how much money did you make in the years when you failed to file taxes? Did you have any dependents at the time? Were there any extenuating circumstances?) and come up with a viable strategy for dealing with the inevitable IRS backlash. Questions? Contact the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) to find out what we can do for you!