Dear Tax Talk,
My husband and I have not filed since 2007, and we want to file this year for all the years we missed. We do not have much money. He owned his own business and became sick.

How do we begin filing past due tax returns? Where do we start?
— Becky

Dear Becky,
I am sorry to hear about your husband and hope he is doing well.

The first thing you need to do is find copies of the last tax returns you and your husband filed, both personally and for his business, as they can help you figure out which tax forms you may need now. Then you need to get your tax records organized for each year that you have not filed.

I am unable to tell from your inquiry which tax forms your husband used to report his business income and expenses. You need to keep that information separate from your personal information.

The IRS has prior year forms on its website at, which you will need to complete for each year. If you need assistance, you can always go to your local IRS office and ask the employees to help you.

If you owe taxes, you may be subject to late filing penalties and failure to pay timely penalties unless you have reasonable cause for not filing or paying. If you need time to pay your taxes, you can complete the IRS Form 9465 Installment Agreement Request, which allows you to set up an installment arrangement. If you are unable to pay the full amount due, you may want to consider making an Offer in Compromise. The IRS has complete instructions and all the necessary forms in the Offer in Compromise Booklet Form 656-B.

If you are due a refund, the statute of limitations on the IRS giving it to you is three years from the due date of the return, so please keep that in mind.

Thanks for your question and all the best to you in tackling this project.

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