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Question DetailsAsked on 6/17/2015

how can i get a refund from irs for 5 & 6 years ago. i filed just this year 2015

I filed taxes this year and got refunds for the last 3 years but irs is not paying for 3 years past that. And I can not find number to call some one at the irs

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

I infer you filed 6 or more years tax returns for years in which you had paid tax or had them withheld but had not filed returns, and are now looking to get the overwithholding or overpayment back.

Of course we are talking the IRS, so there are lots of what-ifs and different rules for different reasons, but generally the IRS can come after you for additional taxes for 3 years after the original statutory filing deadline for that tax year (normally April 15th of next calendar year) or 3 years after you actually filed, whichever is later. In the event of substantial errors or chronic underreporting, especially for business income, 6 years. For fraud - later of 7 years from due date of return or date fraudulent return was filed, or up to 10 years if you were legally living out of the country during part of that time. Generally, they can come after you for assessed taxes for 10 years after the assessment date.

As for YOU filing for refunds FROM the IRS, generally you can file for a refund (using form 1040X for individuals) within (to the mailing date of 1040X) 3 years of the original filing due date (April 15th usually of the calendar year after the tax calendar year in question) or 2 years after the tax money was actually paid, whichever is later. Generally, refunds applied to subsequent year payments is considered paid on the due date of the return for the tax year to which it was applied - so for instance a 2011 overpayment applied to the 2012 retiurn would be considered paid on April 15, 2012.

So, generally, unless you paid later than that calendar year for a given tax year, you cannot now file a 1040 or 1040X (amended return) going further back than calendar year 2012 because the amended // late filing return deadline for 2011 expired April 15, 2015. If you have a different tax year ending date than the calendar year (usually only businesses and estates) due dates are adjusted relative to the end of your tax year, rather than the calendar year.

When you say they paid for the last 3 years that sounds right - for instance a refund request filed after April 15th this year could not go back to before tax year 2012 under normal conditions. They, ,under the terms of the tax laws, won't generally go back further than that except rarely for certain types of business adjustments related to accrued income or expenses, some issues tied up in foreign tax agencies or courts that could not be resolved in the US till that was over, for certain rare items that could not be valued or claimed due to conflicting or changed federal law, and up to 10 years for certain types of capital gains and losses related to securities that were "in limbo" due to bankruptcy and were liquidated or deemed valueless after the original filing deadline. A few other late filing exemptions like for military and diplomatic personnel on overseas service, prisoners of war, etc.

Go to and read instructions for 1040X in the Current Year Forms and Publications tab. Contact number for a luke-warm body (800) 829-1040 - be prepared for 1/2-1 hour wait typically before you can talk to someone, or go to local IRS office to talk to someone face to face, with probably about same or longer wait. You are far better off reading the applicable form instructions and publications than talking to IRS reps - tests have shown you only get through about half the time, and their answers are substantially or totally wrong over half the time you do get through, especially if you do not have a tax preparer number that lets you get to the techincally expert people.

For state (and city for the few cities that have income taxes) income taxes, some use same deadlines as Feds, some allow a year or two additional after you file the federal late or amended return to file the corresponding state return. Generally, initial returns have the same deadline, amended returns sometimes later.

For a straight answer, contact a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) - or if for big bucks, a tax attorney, but bottom line - for ordinary returns, without special conditions specifically allowing later refunds, you will not get anything back before 2012 - or 2011 if late/amended return was filed before April 15, 2015.

BTW - note that the refunds will have fully taxable interest earned on them - will be printed on the actual check, or if direcft depositing the refund, on the confirmation form they mail you. This is ordinary interest that has to be reported - on the Interest line and on Schedule A for ordinary individual tax return.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


So basicaly I'm screwed. Which I had known this. I know its the government but it was my money. I really need that money at this time.

Answered 3 years ago by df


Sorry to hear that, but it is one way they reduce the hassle of having to go back decades to resolve long-dead issues. At least this is not the 70's or so where they used to penalize you for late filing even if you had originally paid more than the total amount due - now you only get penalized and have to pay interest if you owe money and have not paid by the filing deadline.

If you had a specific unavoidable condition or situation which prevented you from filing the returns, you could file for a waiver on that rule. The provisions for that are detailed, but basically it had to be due to an IRS error not at all your fault, you physically could not have filed - you were on a 5 year Moon mission, stuck on Gilligan's Island, in a decades-long coma, etc. However, if it was just procrastination, avoiding filing to stay under the radar from law enforcement or immigration, in prison, etc - you are out of luck.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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