Do You Pay Back Taxes After 10 Years?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally has 10 years to collect unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest. This 10-year period is known as the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED). After the CSED expires, the IRS can no longer pursue collection activities for the specified tax debt.

Exceptions to the 10-Year Rule

There are certain situations where the 10-year CSED may be extended or suspended. These situations include:

  • Filing for bankruptcy: The CSED is suspended during the bankruptcy process and for an additional six months after the bankruptcy is discharged or dismissed.
  • Filing an Offer in Compromise (OIC): The CSED is suspended while the IRS reviews the OIC application. If the OIC is rejected, the CSED is extended for an additional 30 days.
  • Requesting a Collection Due Process Hearing: The CSED is suspended from the date the request is received until a final determination is made. If the taxpayer appeals the decision, the CSED remains suspended during the appeal process.
  • Serving in a combat zone: The CSED is suspended for the period of military service plus an additional 180 days.
  • Living outside the United States: The CSED is suspended for periods of continuous residency outside the U.S. for more than six months. The CSED may be extended for an additional six months upon returning to the U.S.
  • Filing a Substitute for Return: If the IRS files a Substitute for Return due to the taxpayer’s failure to file or fraudulent filing, the 10-year CSED begins when the tax is assessed. However, if the taxpayer later files an accepted return showing a lower tax liability, the CSED for the original Substitute for Return remains the same.

What Happens After the CSED Expires?

Once the CSED expires, the IRS can no longer take any collection actions against the taxpayer for the specified tax debt. This means that the IRS cannot:

  • File a lawsuit to collect the debt
  • Levy or seize the taxpayer’s property
  • Garnish the taxpayer’s wages
  • Revoke the taxpayer’s passport

Important Considerations

  • The CSED applies to each tax year separately. Therefore, even if the CSED has expired for one tax year, the IRS may still have the authority to collect taxes for other tax years.
  • The taxpayer is responsible for tracking the CSED for each tax year. The IRS does not provide notifications when the CSED is approaching or has expired.
  • If the taxpayer believes that the CSED has expired, they should contact the IRS to confirm and obtain documentation.

Seeking Professional Assistance

Taxpayers who are facing IRS collection actions or have concerns about the CSED may benefit from seeking professional assistance from a tax attorney or enrolled agent. These professionals can provide guidance on the taxpayer’s rights and options, negotiate with the IRS on their behalf, and help them resolve their tax debt.

The IRS has 10 years to collect your taxes


What happens if you owe taxes after 10 years?

After this 10-year period or statute of limitations has expired, the IRS can no longer try and collect on an IRS balance due.

How many years can IRS go back to make you pay taxes?

How far back can the IRS go to audit my return? Generally, the IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit. If we identify a substantial error, we may add additional years. We usually don’t go back more than the last six years.

How long does the IRS give you to pay back taxes?

Also, your proposed payment amount must full pay the assessed tax liability within 72 months or satisfy the tax liability in full by the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED), whichever is less. Refer to Time IRS Can Collect Tax for more information about the CSED.

What happens if you don’t pay taxes for 10 years?

Such as tax garnishments or property restrictions, wage deductions, or the seizure of your assets. If you haven’t filed taxes in 10 years: The IRS might have already taken legal action against you. Worse, you may face tax evasion charges resulting in higher penalties or jail time.

How far back can I file a tax return?

Unfortunately, there is a limit on how far back you can file a tax return to claim tax refunds and tax credits. This IRS only allows you to claim refunds and tax credits within three years of the tax return’s original due date.

Do you owe back taxes?

If you think you owe back taxes, consider working with a tax professional who can help you gather past tax returns and file any that you may have missed. If you think you might owe the IRS when you file your tax return this year or next, consider making estimated tax payments in advance.

When should I file my tax return if I owe back taxes?

This is generally on April 15 for most individual tax filers. If you owe back taxes, you must file a past-due return with the IRS. Although the process is similar to filing an on-time tax return, there are a few things to keep in mind. To start, you’ll need to locate your tax forms and other financial documents.

Can the IRS come after you if you don’t pay back taxes?

Technically, you must file all required tax returns and the IRS can come after you for any year that went unfiled. However, IRS Policy Statement 5-133 also says that it takes managerial approval to go back more than six years to enforce delinquency procedures. What happens if you don’t pay your back taxes?

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