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Is there a statue of limitations from the time you file your IRS return and the IRS can say you owe them money??

Los Angeles, CA |

I just received a letter yesterday saying that I owe money on my 2008 and 2009 returns, how can they informed now after almost 5 years of me filing those returns?? Before I answer them I want to know if there is a statue of limitations, I thought I heard somewhere that there is 4 year statue of limitation between the time you file and when they can notify you of money owed?? Is that true?

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Attorney answers 4


Is this a personal return? Normally there is a 3 year statute of limitation from the later of (i) date of filing the return, or (ii) the date the return was to be filed. So your 2008 return would be the later of the date it was filed or April 15, 2009. If your return has a substantial understatement of income (generally 25% of more of your gross income) then it's 6 years from such dates. If fraud is involved there is no statute of limitation. Talk to your tax attorney.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I am licensed to practice law only in Washington, Alaska, and Idaho. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses are only general legal education and are only general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information on this site is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.


You can also contact the IRS and request a "Transcript of Account" for those years. This will provide the detailed information on when the tax return was filed and assessed and whether there has been any additional assessments. There is also a 10 year statute of collection. Generally, the IRS has 10 years from the date of filing or the date of assessment (if no return was filed) to collect the tax liability from you.


There is a statute of limitations but it's likely you're not protected by it in this case. The IRS tends to be very careful about these kinds of things. If it's any substantial amount, best to involve a tax attorney.

Good luck.

Evan A. Nielsen
1255 W. Colton Ave., #506 | Redlands, CA 92374
Main: 909.363.4658 | Fax: 480.304.3211

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Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.


They have three years to audit your returns from the date of filing. However, if your returns are off by enough, they have 6 years. For fraud and unfiled tax returns, they have forever. Once assessed, the IRS has 10 years to collect the tax owed.

Christopher Larson
Insight Law
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