If you haven’t filed tax returns in many years, one of the many questions that you likely have is “how many tax returns do I have to file? How many years back should I go? Is it forever? Is it 10 years? Is it 20 years? Fortunately there is a good answer. According to the Internal Revenue Manual 4. 12.1 – IRS policy is that they only ask taxpayers for the past six years missing tax returns. Now, of course, there are exceptions to every rule including this one but as a practical matter, you only need to file the past 6 years missing tax returns.