How long can the IRS collect on past taxes?

UPDATED: Aug 2, 2011

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How long can the IRS collect on past taxes?

Asked on August 2, 2011 Wisconsin


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The Internal Revenue Service has ten years to collect on a past taxes owed per statute. The time period starts when the Internal Revenue Service is put on notice about past owed taxes. If the Internal Revenue Service is unable to collect on the past due taxes in this ten year period, then one's obligation for such ends.

Each year that taxes are not paid is a separate and independent obligation for owed taxes. For example,if you have not paid taxes since 2009, then the ten year period for 2009 taxes owed starts in 2010, the ten year period for taxes owed in 2010 starts in 2011 and so forth.

However, if you file a return and claim deductions that the Internal Revenue Service deems improper, it has three years from the filed return to advise you that it is contesting those deductions. If it fails to do so within that time period, the deductions are allowed.

Good question.

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