How to Find Out How Much Back Taxes I Owe

Owing the IRS
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If you believe you owe back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, you should do your best to find out immediately the amount of tax, penalty and interest owed, then work out some kind of payment plan. It is far better for you to initiate payment, then for the IRS to come to you. Even if it's been a few years, don't get complacent. The IRS computers work slowly, but the agency will find you and when it does, it might garnish your wages or your bank account.

Step 1

Act on any notices you receive from the IRS, they state how much tax, penalty and interest you owe. Do not ignore these notices. Pay the amount immediately or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to work out a payment plan.

Step 2

Call the IRS and ask how much money you owe, if you have not received any notices. Be prepared to pay back taxes, interest and penalties, or be ready with a suggested payment plan.

Step 3

File your back tax returns and find out how much money you owe. After filing your return, you will receive a notice from the IRS, stating the amount you owe, plus interest and penalties. Be prepared to pay that amount or work out a payment plan with the IRS. To file your return, you need receipts for your exemptions, your W-2 and any 1099s you might have and a tax form for the year you are filing. You can get the tax form from the IRS website. Send all your information to the IRS via certified mail. Keep a copy of everything.


If the amount of back taxes you owe is large, consider hiring a tax professional to help you work out a payment plan or a settlement. If your back tax returns are complicated, consider hiring a tax professional to fill them out for you.


Owing back taxes is serious. If you feel like you're getting in over your head, don't hesitate to hire a professional to help you.

Things You'll Need

  • W-2

  • Form 1099

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