Haven’t filed tax returns in over 40 years.

A long time friend of mine told me that she has not filed tax returns in over 40 years. Now, she is going to retire and is afraid she will not be able to get her social security checks. What can she do? Will she be arrested? Go to jail? What can she do about this at this late time in her life?

I have dealt with these issues many times over the years. The issue of unfiled tax returns really doesn’t mean going back more than the current year plus 7 years as a policy stated by both the IRS and the Commonwealth of Mass. They have the right to go back more but as a practical matter they don’t. Criminal doesn’t usaully come into play either if she voluntarily files the returns for the periods mentioned. If her social security comes from wages paid to her then she gets that whether or not she files. If it comes from self-employment income which she nver paid self-employment taxes on, she may not have social security at all since she hasn’t paid in to the system. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND she seek legal counsel on this ASAP.

Eric Rothenberg