How long the IRS has to look into past tax activities

The government pursues tax revenues with the relentlessness of a pack of bloodhounds. Even an honest tax mistake can come back to haunt you years later in an audit, and the IRS can follow up on a willful omission or failure for even longer.

But for just how long do you have to worry about the government looking into past tax activities? Like most things involving the bloated bureaucracy of the IRS, the answer is complicated.

The basic rule on timing is that the IRS may audit you for three years after you file. However, that limit is doubled to six years if more than 25 percent of your income was omitted.

Additionally, sometimes the IRS claims to need more time to conduct an audit and requests that you sign a form to extend the time limits. Perhaps counterintuitively, many tax advisers will say it is a good idea to comply with this request.

Another layer of complexity is added if the IRS alleges criminal tax evasion. In the event of an alleged willful attempt to defeat or evade any tax, you may be indicted up to six years after any attempt to avoid a tax or payment of a tax. This limit may be extended for various reasons; for instance, the six year limit stops running if you are outside of the United States or if you become a fugitive.

Paying taxes is unpleasant. But dealing with the consequences of an audit or a charge of tax evasion can be even worse. If you are being investigated by the IRS or if you wish to get into compliance before you risk an audit, a tax attorney can help.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Our Team

Contact Us to Get Started Today

Located in the Washington, D.C area, we serve clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia, as well as across the country and overseas. For a free initial consultation, call 202-381-1261 or complete our brief online form.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Six Convenient Office Locations in and around the DC Metropolitan Area

Washington, D.C.
1050 Connecticut Ave NW #500
Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: 202-618-1873
Fax: 888-235-8405
Washington Law Office Map

Columbia Office
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 300
Columbia, MD 21044

Phone: 202-618-1873
Phone: 410-497-5947
Fax: 888-235-8405
Columbia Law Office Map

Annapolis Office
839 Bestgate Road
Suite 400
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: 202-618-1873
Phone: 410-497-5947
Fax: 888-235-8405
Annapolis Law Office Map

Fairfax Office
8280 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
Suite 600
Fairfax, VA 22031

Phone: 202-618-1873
Phone: 703-988-4817
Fax: 888-235-8405
Fairfax Law Office Map

Rockville Office
199 E. Montgomery Avenue
Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850

Phone: 202-618-1873
Phone: 240-599-5009
Fax: 888-235-8405
Rockville Law Office Map

Baltimore Office
400 East Pratt Street
8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 202-618-1873
Phone: 443-743-3381
Fax: 888-235-8405
Baltimore Law Office Map