Back Taxes

by / ⠀ / March 11, 2024


“Back Taxes” refer to the unpaid taxes in the year they were due to be paid. They can be owed due to intentional or unintentional underpayment, or non-payment of taxes by individuals or corporations. These unpaid taxes accrue interest and penalties until they are fully paid.

Key Takeaways

  1. Back Taxes refer to taxes that have been partially or fully unpaid in the year that they were due. They include all types of taxes such as income, sales, and property taxes, and can accumulate over time if not addressed.
  2. Back Taxes can lead to penalties and added interest by the taxing authority, and if left unpaid, the government may take more severe actions such as placing liens on your property or garnishing your wages. Esta blished payment plans or settlements, however, can help manage owed Back Taxes.
  3. Often a professional tax advisor or an attorney is useful to help in mitigating the consequences of owing Back Taxes, as the laws surrounding taxation can be complex and the stakes can be high when dealing with government agencies.


Back taxes are crucial in finance primarily because they reflect unpaid taxes that were due in the previous year or years.

This is critical because not paying taxes in full and on time can lead to severe penalties, interest, and legal actions from the tax authorities.

The outstanding tax liability can accumulate over time, significantly escalating the financial burden.

Moreover, back taxes can harm one’s credit score and limit access to financing opportunities.

Therefore, understanding and managing back taxes is essential for both individuals and businesses to maintain financial health and compliance with tax regulations.


Back taxes serve a critical purpose in maintaining fiscal balance, both for individuals and governmental bodies. They refer to the outstanding taxes that individuals, businesses, or any tax-paying entity owes to the respective state or federal government.

It is not an advantageous position for taxpayers because failure to pay taxes in full and on time could result in fines, penalties, or legal issues. However, their collection is critical for governments as these serve as financial resources necessary for funding various public goods and services like transportation, education, healthcare, and maintaining law and order.

Functionally, back taxes act as a liability for the individuals or entities owing it but double as a crucial part of the government’s receivables. Whenever individuals fail to pay their taxes completely or on time during a tax year, these accumulated taxes become back taxes and collect over time until paid off.

Back taxes can appear in many forms like property taxes, income taxes, or business taxes, depending on what was not fully paid. Furthermore, governments use various measures like tax liens or garnishing of wages to recover these back taxes, thus emphasizing more on prompt and full tax payments from every taxpayer.

Examples of Back Taxes

Celebrity Tax Evasion: One of the most famous cases of back taxes is actor Wesley Snipes. He was convicted in 2008 for not filing tax returns from 1999 toThe IRS said he owed $

7 million in back taxes at the time, but Snipes disagreed and did not pay.Business Tax Debts: Many companies can face back taxes due to improper or inaccurate accounting. For instance, Apple was ordered by the European Union to pay €13 billion ($

5 billion) in back taxes to Ireland after it was found the company had received illegal tax benefits over the years.Personal Income Taxes: A common example can be found in individual households, where a person might not fully pay their taxes for a given year due to financial hardship or oversight. They might also inaccurately report their income which can lead to owing back taxes. For instance, actor Nicolas Cage faced issues with back taxes, where he ended up owing the IRS around $

3 million due to financial mismanagement and tax evasion.

FAQs for Back Taxes

What are Back Taxes?

Back taxes are the taxes that were not paid in the year they were due. These usually accumulate interest and penalties over time, increasing the amount owed.

How are Back Taxes incurred?

Back taxes are incurred when you fail to pay full taxes, file a tax return but don’t pay the taxes reported, or fail to report your income completely.

How can I pay Back Taxes?

The IRS provides multiple methods to pay back taxes, including credit or debit card online, IRS Direct Pay, or Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). You can also mail a check or money order or pay in-person.

What if I cannot afford to pay Back Taxes?

If you are unable to pay your back taxes, you can contact the IRS to discuss payment options such as an installment agreement or an offer in compromise. However, it’s always recommended to pay back taxes as soon as possible to avoid additional penalties and interest.

Can Back Taxes be forgiven?

Under certain circumstances, the IRS may forgive or settle back taxes for less than the full amount you owe. This is typically referred to as an “offer in compromise”.

Related Entrepreneurship Terms

  • IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
  • Lien
  • Tax Evasion
  • Penalty Abatement
  • Property Taxes

Sources for More Information

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS offers comprehensive information about back taxes, including how to pay them and what to do if you can’t afford to.
  • Investopedia: This is a respected source for a wide range of financial topics, including back taxes.
  • H&R Block: H&R Block provides informational resources on back taxes, as well as services to help you handle them.
  • Tax Foundation: The Tax Foundation is a non-partisan tax research group and provides valuable information on a variety of tax-related topics, such as back taxes.

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