IRS urges non-filers to step forward

September 27, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WICHITA, Kan. -- The forgiving folks at the Internal Revenue Service are making a gentle bid to bring wayward taxpayers back into the fold.

The IRS has launched a nationwide program to persuade people who have not filed returns over the past few years to rejoin the taxpaying public voluntarily.

"We're working on the premise that a large number of these people are honest," said James Manuszak, an IRS spokesman. "They're just scared."

The IRS has never prosecuted a delinquent taxpayer for voluntarily filing a return. But those people who have neglected to file tax returns have until Oct. 1 to step forward.

Then the ax falls. The IRS has reassigned 2,000 auditors, who will spend the next three years tracking down the 2.5 million people nationwide who have not filed tax returns.

In most cases, people fail to file because of an upheaval in their lives, such as a divorce or a death in their family. Once they miss one year, they tend to stop altogether for fear they will draw attention to themselves.

"It's an endless cycle for them," said Richard Lee, chief of the IRS examination division for the Wichita district.

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, IRS offices will help delinquent taxpayers get back into the system, Mr. Lee said. The offices will have old tax forms and access to information on past earnings.

The IRS cannot waive back taxes or interest, but penalties may be waived for someone with a valid reason for not filing a tax return.

"There will be a lot of instances where penalties will be re-evaluated," Mr. Lee said.

On average, half of the people who have not filed returns do not owe back taxes. Some people may even have tax refunds coming. Still, the IRS estimates that the push to find delinquent taxpayers will raise $7 billion in revenue for the federal government over the next three years.

For information on the IRS assistance program, call your local IRS office or call (800) 829-1040.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.