Should I file tax returns for years I had no income?

August 19, 2011

From:  Daniela
Date:  Wed, 15 Apr 2009

Hi Michael,

I haven't earned any money in about four years.

I'm a writer and someone stole the rights for my book, so for all of this time I've been in a lawsuit. I finally won the lawsuit and I will probably start receiving some royalties for my book.

Since I didn't have any income, I didn't file any income tax returns. Was that wrong?


Date:  8 May 2009

Hello Daniela,

Generally, if you didn't have self-employment income of at least $400, no income tax return was required to be filed. You might be entitled to net operating loss deductions relating to the interim years. In that case, tax returns should be filed using the forms (Form 1040 and state income tax form) for those years. You can get them from the IRS and your state tax authority, or a tax return preparer should have access to them if you decide to have them prepared for you. If there was no tax, no penalty should apply for failure to file.

Good luck!

Mike Gray

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