You may have thought you were alone but millions of Americans have not filed their past due tax returns.
“It is tough to get started when you don’t have any of the information needed for your tax return preparer” states a frustrated Jake B. who is one of the approximately 26 million Americans trying to resolve their past due tax liability. “Where do I start?,” he adds.
Jake is a self-employed contractor with no employees and no corporate structure although he works fairly consistently for several apartment building owners. He has not filed his IRS tax returns for the past 4 years, in part due to a divorce. He makes no excuses but says, “After my divorce, I moved out of the house leaving all of my records in the garage which was then subsequently thrown out after my wife sold the house. I never kept perfect records anyway but now I have no records and no place to start”. Jake eventually spoke with a tax return preparer, Patricia, who was able to file Jake’s unfiled return without documentation from Jake himself.
But how? How do you file returns if you don’t have records?
Patricia sent a request to the IRS for any 1099 information that was reported from Jake’s income source. Shortly thereafter, the IRS sent her the 1099’s that the apartment building owners who Jake worked for had sent to the IRS. Patricia also received (from the IRS) the 1099 information from Jake’s $5,500 windfall from a local Resort Casino, and information about Jake’s mortgage interest payments to the bank.
Next Patricia had to figure out deductible business expenses. Jake had to purchase material and supplies and on occasion hired day workers to help him make certain repairs in the apartment buildings. Without any documentation, Patricia assumed that Jake’s income to expense ratio was 65%. In other words, for every $1,000 Jake made, Patricia estimated $650 of that was for material ‘supply and labor’ that Jake expended to make that $1,000 in income. “It could have been a little more or it could have been a little less” said Patricia. Why did Patricia use 65% for Jake? She used the the IRS’s own determination of what the income to expense ratio is for a contractor such as Jake in the area where he works and lives. “It was just an estimate but is probably fairly accurate” adds Patricia. Using all this information, Patricia was able to successfully file all of Jake’s delinquent returns. The IRS was perfectly comfortable with the newly filed returns and it ended up being a simple process.
Note, if the IRS has no income records for a taxpayer, the taxpayer can estimate the approximate income based on bank statement deposits or in a case where no bank statements exist, the taxpayer can extrapolate an approximate income by determining approximately how much it cost for the taxpayer to live by adding up vehicle costs, rent etc.
In summary, even though you may not have any receipts and documentation, there are ways for you to easily get your taxes filed. This is critical to getting started on a tax resolution plan.
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