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How far back can a state go to audit you?

Austin, TX |

I just got notice that for 2004 I owe back taxes. It also showed $130.00 refund. Why now are they saying I owe them $203.84 with penalty and interest. I just don't understand. I thought they could only go back 3 years? I don't have my tax return for 2004. Please help.

Attorney Answers 1

  1. I'm a California attorney, so I'll give a California answer. Here, the state requires you to maintain records for six years, and cases come up in that period. Your state may have similar provisions: but to find out, you'll have to get specific with YOUR state's law. Google is a good resource for this. With regard to your 2004 return, the state has your return. See if you can make an appointment with the auditor to see your return and discuss it. Bring anything you can find from 2004, and call your employer for a copy of the w-2 statement from 2004. See if the bank has records of mortgage payments, and the city/county of property taxes. Bring any statements your church/'synagogue may have generated about your offerings. Bring them with you. Discover what they're contesting. See if it's something you might be able to get records on to argue with them. Be as polite and firm as you can. Then ask if the penalty and interest can be reduced, politely. If you can settle, well and good. If you can't, you'll have more specific questions to ask.