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Do I HAVE to file income taxes?

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I am a retired woman in my late 60's living in Wisconsin..  My reportable Income is my social security, some dividends & about $900 from bank bonuses.   I have not had to pay ANY income taxes for the last 2 years. The last 2 years I have had my taxes done for free by one of Senior Citizen volunteers that I believe are somehow connected with AARP.  Last year I said to the (retired) accountant  who did my taxes, "Is it even really necessary for me to get my taxes done & sent in when I don't owe anything?"  He said it wasn't necessary, but a good idea to do so just the same.

I am looking for other opinions of this question as my situation this year is much the same as in the last few years - Do I have to file taxes? - Can I get in any trouble if I don't file anything? 

Thanks in advance for any comments/and or opinions

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I would file taxes. It will take less than 3 hours out of your life.
Turbo Tax: Tax Myths

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I would at least figure your taxes each year so you know.
In my case, it depends how well my stock investments do. There is a risk that added to Social Security, I my combined income could tax my Social Security ... That would trigger a yes in my case.

Talking to my banker, I will continue to file each year regardless, because bank underwriters may ask for proof of income and I do not have a job to verify income. Same if I decide to change credit cards.

One year, I forgot to file when I was caretaking my Mother. I did not owe anything and legally not required to file. Because I had filed in previous years, the IRS sent a letter wanting my tax return for that year ... more than once.

My point is there may be other reasons to file even when not legally required.

Can you get in trouble?  Probably not.  But one thing to consider is the IRS and Social Security Administration consider your tax filing as proof of still being alive.
IF you have a home and take out a reverse mortgage, most of those programs  will require you to prove your taxes are current.

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Simply use the tool to determine. Done.

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If you do not file your taxes, the IRS can audit you forever into the future for the years you didn't file.  If you file your taxes, they can only audit you for three years from filing after which point they are out of luck and can no longer bother you for the expired years.

 If something happens to you in the future and all of a sudden you were making money to the point where you would owe taxes, and let's just say on one of your returns you made a mistake and it triggered an audit. At that point they would go back and realize you had not filed taxes for a number of years and  you could be audited for years in the past and good luck trying to re-create all of your statements to figure out how much money you earned a dozen years ago. 

My doctor stopped filing taxes after he retired  when he was only earning Social Security.  His income was so low he would not have owed taxes.  When he went to sell his house to move into a retirement facility, I guess he didn't file again and the IRS picked up the house sale. They  realized he hadn't filed for a number of years and proceeded to torture him until he died.

 Please do not screw around with this. File your taxes every year.   Just hiring a lawyer and the accountant to represent you in an audit is going to cost way more than a simple filing.   And that says nothing about the emotional anguish involved with being tortured by the IRS.  I am pretty sure the audit stress helped lead my doctor to a heart attack and an early grave. 

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michelletime said:   I would file taxes. It will take less than 3 hours out of your life.
https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/The-Top-Tax-Myths/INF12135.html

  I did one of my new employee's 2016 return on TurboTax and it literally took us 15 minutes.  We've spent at least 15 hours on mine and we are maybe halfway done.

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my brother doesnt file as he doesnt have to. in order to get qualified for insurance programs they said we need to see ur tax returns. Which he didnt file. So .... although its wrong ... you shouldnt have to ... just do it

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I have had no income for the last couple of years and did not file taxes. But reading this thread, I feel like i should, Can i File taxes for 2014,2015

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khakuda said:   If you do not file your taxes, the IRS can audit you forever into the future for the years you didn't file.  If you file your taxes, they can only audit you for three years from filing after which point they are out of luck and can no longer bother you for the expired years.

 If something happens to you in the future and all of a sudden you were making money to the point where you would owe taxes, and let's just say on one of your returns you made a mistake and it triggered an audit. At that point they would go back and realize you had not filed taxes for a number of years and  you could be audited for years in the past and good luck trying to re-create all of your statements to figure out how much money you earned a dozen years ago. 

My doctor stopped filing taxes after he retired  when he was only earning Social Security.  His income was so low he would not have owed taxes.  When he went to sell his house to move into a retirement facility, I guess he didn't file again and the IRS picked up the house sale. They  realized he hadn't filed for a number of years and proceeded to torture him until he died.

 Please do not screw around with this. File your taxes every year.   Just hiring a lawyer and the accountant to represent you in an audit is going to cost way more than a simple filing.   And that says nothing about the emotional anguish involved with being tortured by the IRS.  I am pretty sure the audit stress helped lead my doctor to a heart attack and an early grave. 

  A retired doctor with low income? If the IRS suspects that fraudulent returns were filed there is also no limit, though I'll agree that filing probably helps

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skipss said:   I have had no income for the last couple of years and did not file taxes. But reading this thread, I feel like i should, Can i File taxes for 2014,2015
  Yes.  Get the forms and instructions at IRS.GOV.
2014 and 2015 tax software is available if you feed the need.

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Chiming in with a data point from the other end of the age spectrum....

My daughter earned less than 1K from a summer job and no taxes were withheld, so we did not bother filing a tax return. Come FAFSA/CSS Profile time, we had to get an IRS proof on non-filing letter when we were asked for additional documentation.

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JW10 said:   
skipss said:   I have had no income for the last couple of years and did not file taxes. But reading this thread, I feel like i should, Can i File taxes for 2014,2015
  Yes.  Get the forms and instructions at IRS.GOV.
2014 and 2015 tax software is available if you feed the need.

  Do you have a link where i can find the information to file the previous years taxes  

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skipss said:   
JW10 said:   
skipss said:   I have had no income for the last couple of years and did not file taxes. But reading this thread, I feel like i should, Can i File taxes for 2014,2015
  Yes.  Get the forms and instructions at IRS.GOV.
2014 and 2015 tax software is available if you feed the need.

  Do you have a link where i can find the information to file the previous years taxes  

  
Depends on how you want to do it.

If you want to use the software then the providers would have the old products available, for example:
https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/past-years-products/

IRS forms are found here by searching:
https://find.irs.gov/search?affiliate=irs-prior-fp
 

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As a former IRS Agent, I can tell you that FWUSER12 gave you the correct advice.
The threshold for filing is not whether you owe taxes, but rather it is based on the source and amount of your income. It is true that the statute of limitations generally runs from the later of the due date of the return or the filing date. WHO CARES? You have nothing to audit! The problem with forums like this, is the advice given by some people who have no idea what they are talking about.

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Buffalo88 said:   As a former IRS Agent, I can tell you that FWUSER12 gave you the correct advice.
The threshold for filing is not whether you owe taxes, but rather it is based on the source and amount of your income. It is true that the statute of limitations generally runs from the later of the due date of the return or the filing date. WHO CARES? You have nothing to audit! The problem with forums like this, is the advice given by some people who have no idea what they are talking about.

  Out of curiosity, what's the standard look-back for a non-filer that gets audited?

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marginoferror said:   
Buffalo88 said:   As a former IRS Agent, I can tell you that FWUSER12 gave you the correct advice.
The threshold for filing is not whether you owe taxes, but rather it is based on the source and amount of your income. It is true that the statute of limitations generally runs from the later of the due date of the return or the filing date. WHO CARES? You have nothing to audit! The problem with forums like this, is the advice given by some people who have no idea what they are talking about.

  Out of curiosity, what's the standard look-back for a non-filer that gets audited?

  There is no standard. It really depends on facts and circumstances. Be aware that IRS generally won't make an assessment for under $100 for an office or field audit.

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Buffalo88 said:   As a former IRS Agent, I can tell you that FWUSER12 gave you the correct advice.
The threshold for filing is not whether you owe taxes, but rather it is based on the source and amount of your income. It is true that the statute of limitations generally runs from the later of the due date of the return or the filing date. WHO CARES? You have nothing to audit! The problem with forums like this, is the advice given by some people who have no idea what they are talking about.

  Yes, I agree.  I would like to here your suggestion though.  Thanks in advance.

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