Why People Don’t File Tax Returns and How to Overcome Procrastination

When it comes to filing tax returns, many individuals find themselves stuck in a cycle of procrastination. The task may seem daunting or overwhelming, leading to avoidance and delayed action. However, neglecting to file tax returns can have severe consequences. 


In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why people tend to procrastinate on filing their tax returns and discuss strategies to overcome this procrastination. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing practical solutions, you can break free from the cycle and fulfill your tax obligations with confidence.


Understanding the Reasons behind Procrastination

Procrastination is a complex behavior that can stem from various factors. To effectively address the issue of unfiled tax returns, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind this procrastination.


Fear and Anxiety Surrounding Tax Filing

  • The fear of making mistakes or facing an audit can paralyze individuals.
  • Anxiety about the complexity of the tax code and the fear of owing a large sum of money can deter people from taking action.

Psychological Factors Contributing to Procrastination

  • Procrastination can be rooted in perfectionism, as individuals may feel overwhelmed by the expectation of achieving flawless results.
  • Lack of motivation, low self-confidence, or a fear of failure can also contribute to procrastination behavior.

Common Excuses for Not Filing Tax Returns

  • People often make excuses to justify their procrastination, such as not having enough time, lacking financial records, or assuming they won’t owe any taxes.
  • However, these excuses can lead to severe consequences if left unaddressed.

Consequences of Not Filing Tax Returns

Neglecting to file tax returns can result in significant legal and financial ramifications. Understanding these consequences is crucial in motivating individuals to take action and file their taxes promptly.

Penalties and Interest

  • Tax authorities impose penalties for failure to file tax returns, usually calculated as a percentage of the unpaid taxes.
  • Interest accrues on the unpaid tax balance, further increasing the overall liability.

Potential Legal Action

  • Continued non-compliance with tax filing obligations may lead to more severe consequences, including tax liens, wage garnishments, or even criminal charges in extreme cases.
  • It’s crucial to understand that tax authorities have various means to enforce tax compliance.

Overcoming Procrastination and Filing Unfiled Tax Returns

To overcome procrastination and file unfiled tax returns, it’s important to implement practical strategies and develop a proactive mindset.

Seeking Support from Qualified Tax Professionals

  • Not all tax professionals have the required experience to assist with unfiled tax returns and missing records. Most tax accountants and CPAs are competent at preparing annual current-year returns but lack the knowledge and procedural know-how to resolve many years of unfiled tax returns. 
  • Reach out to tax professionals such as tax attorneys and dual-licensed Attorney-CPAs who can provide expert guidance and assistance. These professionals can assist in reconstructing missing records, obtaining IRS transcripts, and crafting a tailored plan to bring you into compliance.
  • These professionals can ensure accuracy, identify potential deductions, help navigate complex tax situations, and minimize the risk of civil and/or criminal investigation and enforcement.

Breaking the Task into Manageable Steps

  • Divide the tax filing process into smaller, more achievable tasks to reduce overwhelm.
  • Under the guidance of an experienced tax attorney, start with organizing the available financial documents, gathering necessary forms, and gradually work through each step.

Discuss Deadlines and a Realistic Timeframe with your Tax Attorney

  • Discuss a realistic timeframe with your tax attorney to prepare and file your unfiled tax returns based on the specific facts of your case such as tax return complexity, available records, and years to be filed.
  • Create a schedule to allocate specific time slots for tax-related tasks, ensuring progress is made consistently.

The Benefits of Taking Action and Filing Tax Returns

By overcoming procrastination and filing tax returns promptly, individuals can reap numerous benefits, both financially and mentally.

Avoiding Penalties and Legal Complications

  • Filing tax returns within the designated time frame helps individuals avoid penalties and interest charges.
  • By being compliant with tax laws, you reduce the risk of facing legal actions by tax authorities.

Gaining Peace of Mind and Reducing Stress

  • Taking control of your tax obligations brings a sense of relief and peace of mind.
  • You can reduce stress by addressing the situation head-on and eliminating the worry associated with unfiled tax returns.

Accessing Potential Tax Refunds or Credits

  • By filing tax returns, you may discover eligible deductions, credits, or refunds.
  • Don’t miss out on potential tax benefits that can positively impact your financial situation.

Seeking Professional Help

If the task of filing unfiled tax returns feels overwhelming, seeking professional assistance is a wise decision.

The Role of Tax Professionals

  • Tax attorneys and dual-licensed Attorney-CPAs can provide valuable expertise, ensuring accurate tax filings and optimizing your financial outcomes.
  • They can navigate complex tax regulations and handle any correspondence or negotiations with tax authorities on your behalf.

Finding a Reputable Professional

  • Research local tax professionals, ask for recommendations, and read online reviews.
  • Choose someone with experience in handling unfiled tax returns and who has a track record of helping individuals in similar situations.


Overcoming the procrastination associated with unfiled tax returns is essential to minimize potential penalties and legal complications. By understanding the reasons behind procrastination, implementing practical strategies, and seeking professional help when needed, you can take control of your tax obligations and experience the peace of mind that comes with compliance. Remember, it’s never too late to address unfiled tax returns and set yourself on a path toward financial well-being.

In addition to having decades of experience in resolving unfiled tax returns, at Rosefelt Tax Law our team has the empathy and knowledge necessary to assist with the unique financial and mental challenges of overcoming delinquent tax returns. Rather than having to consult with a tax attorney and a tax preparer separately, our multidisciplinary team of tax attorneys, accountants, and enrolled agents ensures we can counsel our clients on the necessary steps to get into compliance as well as prepare the tax returns necessary to do so. 

Call us today at (866) 995-0061 or through our Contact Us form and take the first step towards financial freedom.