Q: An adult family member who is disabled and on public assistance has not filed taxes in over five years. Problem?
She is married still but separated, and she has three dependent children and hasn't had a job for all that time. The husband is working but makes less than $25K a year and lives with his mom in a different city. We would like to know if she's going to be in trouble for not filing taxes for the last five years. Some family members say she didn't have to because she had no income. I am doubting that.
A: Just because someone claims to have no income that does not mean they do not have to file a tax return. In this bizarre situation, it is very doubtful that a disabled mother of three who has not had a job for several years will have to pay any income tax. However, since she was married (and apparently still is), she may have filed a (joint?) tax return many years ago--before she stopped working--which if so, means the IRS may have noticed the absence of returns filed by her. Because the IRS can impose a penalty on anyone who has not filed a tax return, the safest route to take is to file a return that reports no income except whatever state or federal aid they receive. Consider hiring an accountant or a CPA to do the first return, and then use some cheap software and do it yourself after that.
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