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Before he became a near household name, Anthony Bourdain had tax problems. For more than 10 years, the well-known chef, author and television host failed to pay his taxes in a timely manner. Like most people in that position, he was concerned. But, then a career shift he took also woke him up about finances.

The punk rock chef and celebrity contacted the IRS, paid his back taxes, and never looked back. With proper guidance and advocacy, anyone can tackle their back-tax issues.

Some serious repercussions

Thousands of Americans have been or still are in the same position as Bourdain. Often, they don’t know what to do, but they do understand that there are serious repercussions for not filing taxes. Those repercussions may include stiff fines and even prison time.

But it’s never too late to try to makes amends with the IRS. The 2017 year’s tax deadline is still two months away. This just may be the right time to get things in order, especially if you haven’t filed your taxes in years.

What you can do

Now that you’ve decided to file your tax returns from those missing years, here’s what you will need to do:

  • Call the IRS, and follow Anthony Bourdain’s lead. This phone call may be long overdue. As long as you are willing to cooperate, the IRS should cooperate with you.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable contacting the IRS, hire a seasoned tax attorney who will do the work for you.
  • Assemble your documents for each year you’ve failed to file a tax return. This would include W-2 and 1099-DIV forms. If you are unable to find all your documents, request them from your employer. However, don’t panic if you don’t have everything the IRS may need. Missing paperwork can be provided by the IRS. Just request it by filing Form 4506-T.
  • Submit forms to the IRS, and then pay what you owe. Consider negotiating your tax bill. Penalties may represent up to 20 percent of what you owe to the IRS. Work with the IRS to try to get the penalty fees removed from your record. We can also help you present offers-in-compromise and payment plans.

Other facts on tax-filing avoidance

Here are a few more things to ponder about the seriousness of the issues you are working to resolve.

  • The IRS has no time limit on collecting taxes, penalties and interest. So if you haven’t paid taxes in 20 years, you are still responsible for paying them. Although there is no time limit for submitting an unfiled return, refunds are another matter. Once a refund is older than three years, it can no longer be claimed.
  • After you have finally filed your taxes, the IRS has 10 years to collect on the taxes you owe.
  • Tax evasion is a criminal offense. Actor Wesley Snipes recently did prison time for not filing taxes for three years. Penalties can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Please don’t ignore any tax-related notices you receive from the IRS. If it’s been years since you have filed your taxes, it may be time to come clean. You no longer have to feel paralyzed or filled with anxiety, just take the steps toward resolving your situation.

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