Are you required to Correct a Substitute for Return?

The taxpayer refuses to file a return. The IRS records of 1099s and W-2s show that the taxpayer probably owes taxes, so they file a return for the taxpayer. This is called a ‘Substitute for Return’ and it is a legitimate tax return for all legal purposes.

Eventually, as the pressure from the IRS grows, the taxpayer realizes that the easiest path in life is to get into compliance. They prepare the missing returns and discover that their calculations show a higher tax than the IRS’s assessment. Are they required to correct the IRS? If they fail to do so, are they open to a fraud charge?

The answer is NO! The IRS has made a legal assessment. If the lower amount is what the government wants to use, the taxpayer’s only legal requirement is to pay the tax assessed.  You are only in trouble if you provide false information to the government. The fact that 3rd parties did not report all of your income is not your problem.

Author: Jim Payne

Jim Payne, a Florida Certified Public Accountant (CPA) since 1976, offers candid insights on getting square with the IRS — with the least pain, and at the lowest cost — with (or without) the help of a tax representative. Mr. Payne is a former IRS agent and expert in business profitability, IRS audits, IRS payroll tax, and IRS non-filer issues. As a Tax Representative, his goal is clear: " I will speak on your behalf to all IRS agents, so you never have to, and I'll guide you in executing a strategy to resolve your IRS problem so you can get back to enjoying life."

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