Greene-Lewis also notes that if you fail to file, the IRS may file a return on your behalf: “The IRS can get copies of your income forms — your W-2 or 1099-MISC — and they’ll do it for you.” However, it’s best to file yourself because you might be eligible for tax deductions and credits that the IRS doesn’t know about, she says.

In short, even if you’re only a couple of months behind on your taxes, the consequences can pile up in the form of fees and interest. And the longer your taxes go unpaid, the more costly it’ll be.

Plus, you may miss out on a refund by not filing. “The IRS reports every year that they have close to $1 billion in unclaimed refunds,” says Greene-Lewis. “And those [unclaimed] refunds are averaging about $700. That’s a lot of money.”

If you continually ignore your taxes, you may have more than fees to deal with. The IRS could:

  • File a notice of a federal tax lien (a claim to your property)
  • Seize your property
  • Make you forfeit your refund
  • File charges for tax evasion
  • Revoke your passport

So, if you haven’t done so already, get started on your 2016 tax returns.

Don’t miss: A single mom used her tax refund to pay her rent—for the entire year