Cannot Get Refund



Today TaxMama hears from Geoff in the TaxQuips Forum who is frustrated. To make a long story short (you can read the long story here), Geoff didn’t file his tax return on time because he couldn’t afford to pay for the preparation fees. When he filed, more than three years later, IRS denied his refund because he had filed too late. Is there any way around this rule? Any exceptions?


Dear Geoff,

Paul Clausen is right – on all the points he makes. (Read Paul’s response – it’s excellent!) It IS a tough rule. But three years is a long time. Surely, that is enough time to either earn some money to get your returns prepared, or to do them yourself.

Let me tell you a little secret if you ever find yourself in this situation again. Prepare a tax return yourself, doing the best you can. Prepare a PAPER tax return – and if you’re not sure how something should be treated, include information and explanations that you send with the tax return. Include a cover sheet, if you know that you’re doing it totally incorrectly, saying this is a protective filing, until you can afford to get it done properly.

That will count as a filed tax return, on time. You might even get your refund right away.

Meanwhile, you have another three years to get it done correctly – which might even result in more of a refund.

Incidentally, there are exceptions – for illness, death and military service. Other than that, no.

 And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about tax refunds, and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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