How to come clean with your taxes

Marketplace Staff May 28, 2010
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How to come clean with your taxes

Marketplace Staff May 28, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Last week, we heard from Janine. Her boyfriend hadn’t filed with the IRS for 20 years. And each year around tax time, things got a little tense. Janine wanted him to come clean, but he became more and more reluctant. So, she called us up. And we told her it was time to bite the bullet.

Kathy Kristof: You need to contact his employer and get those W-2s.

JANINE: For every year?

KRISTOF: For every single year.

Note Janine’s apprehension at the task ahead. Well, good news Janine! After we aired the segment, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate herself — Nina Olson — gave us a call. Turns out the process is easier than we thought.

NINA OLSON: The IRS has a policy where if the taxpayer comes in voluntarily, and we have not found that tax payer first — we really ask the taxpayer to go back and file six years. Then, the IRS is able to provide — not necessarily all six years worth of data, but any time there’s a W-2 or 1099 going back about five years — we can provide that information.

So, six years — not the full 20. And the IRS may already have the info on file. Olson also said if they hadn’t been caught by now,
it’s probably because the government actually owed them for some of those years. And most of that money would be long gone by now, but Janine’s boyfriend could cash in the past three years if he’s owed anything.

And if it turns out he’s on the hook, the IRS has payment plans to help ease the pain a little. The moral of the story?

OLSON: Just hunkering down isn’t a good idea.

All right Janine, you’ve got your marching orders.

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