People First Initiative FAQs: Past-Due Tax Returns

These FAQs are not included in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, and therefore may not be relied upon as legal authority. This means that the information cannot be used to support a legal argument in a court case.

Q. What happens with delinquent return filings? (updated July 9, 2020)

A. The IRS continues its work to secure unfiled tax returns. The IRS will not generally default an Offer in Compromise for those taxpayers who are delinquent in filing their tax return for tax year 2018. However, taxpayers should file any delinquent 2018 return (and their 2019 return) on or before July 15, 2020.

Q. Should taxpayers file delinquent returns for tax years prior to 2019? (updated July 9, 2020)

A. Yes. The IRS will continue its work to secure unfiled tax returns. The IRS strongly encourages people to file returns for tax years before 2019. More than 1 million households that haven't filed tax returns during the last three years are owed refunds and they still have time to claim these refunds. Many should consider contacting a tax professional to discuss the available options because the time to receive such refunds is limited by statute.

Q. What about taxpayers who may owe back taxes? (updated July 9, 2020)

A. Once taxpayers file their delinquent returns, anyone with a tax liability should review their options to resolve any outstanding liabilities. Visit for more information about IRS payment options, including several options for taxpayers who can't pay the full amount now. Tax bills do not go away, and it pays in the long run to clear up past unpaid taxes and filing requirements to avoid the accrual of penalties and interest.


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