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I Didn’t File Tax Returns for the Last Five Years But I Live on Very Little. What Do I Do? – Barb

“Dear Jim,

I am in my late 70’s and I have gotten neglectful and ill the last five years and did not file a return. I know I do not owe money since I usually owe them nothing(it is taken out) or very very little for many years.
I am retired and live on about 10,000 a year.

Do you have to file a return?

How serious are my consequences?


Dear Barb:

Thanks for the question.

The chances are you probably do not have to file a tax return if your only income is $10,000 and it is social security income. (it is probably only from social security which is excludable from taxable income, in most circumstances, for amounts up to $25,000 (for an individual, $32,000 if you file jointly). However, you should have filed to receive any stimulus funds that Congress has made available (see this publication).

Filing requirements are specific to your situation. You should file a return if you are required to do so. If you would like some free help, I would be glad to contact the IRS on your behalf and find out if you need to file. If you do need to file and your income is around $10,000 a year, it will be easy to submit those returns.

Rest easy, Barb. If your only income is social security, you are OK.

Your servant,


Jim Buttonow is one of the resident debt experts here at that helps people for free. Jim is a licensed CPA who spent 19 years with the IRS coordinating large compliance teams of IRS agents and specialized personnel. In the last 5 years, Jim has invented consumer and practitioner software and treatises on how to address many different tax issues. He has also represented many people before the IRS examination, collection, filing, and appeals functions. He currently assists taxpayers on an active pro bono tax practice aimed at serving people in need. He can be reached at

If you have a tax question you’d like to ask just use the online form. I’m happy to help you totally for free.

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About Jim Buttonnow

Jim Buttonnow
Jim Buttonow, CPA/CITP, is cofounder of Beyond415. He has more than 26 years of experience in IRS practice and procedure. Reach Jim at [email protected].

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