Late Taxes & Old Late Payments

I’m in the process of being investigated for a Secret clearance. I’m currently a DOJ employee- I had my background investigated for my current position, but it is not a “clearance” position.

So here’s the thing: I filed my 2018 taxes a year late (in July 2020), and my 2020 taxes a little under a year late (in March, 2022). In both instances, I owed money and paid it, in full, upon filing. Once the fees and interest were calculated, I paid those in full as well. In regards to reasoning- both of my parents were sick with cancer from 2017-2020. In 2019 when it came time to file 2018’s, I was overwhelmed with everything that was going on and it got put on the backburner and it honestly slipped my mind. Eventually, it just made more sense to have them filed in 2020 with my 2019 taxes, so I sought out an accountant and that’s what I did. In 2020, both of my parents died and I was the executor of their estate. In dealing with the estate, selling their house, and my own divorce, I again lost track of filing my taxes. I knew it was going to require professional help (with so many life insurance payouts, additional documents, etc). So I filed my 2020 taxes with an accountant as soon as I received all my documentation for my 2021 taxes. My life has settled down substantially since then and I have retained professional help from a financial advisor (who is a CPA and will be doing my tax filing for the foreseeable future). I disclosed all of this on my eQip and discussed it with my Background Investigator during the interview. He didn’t ask for any additional documentation.

Additionally, it came up during my interview that my federal student loans were past-due at some point. These loans originated in 2007 and the investigator was unable to tell me when they were past-due, just that they were at some point. Prior to him bringing this up, I did mention that due to an account-change/auto-pay conflict, the loans my parents had been paying went unpaid for a couple of months several years ago (I believe it was 2014/2015) but that it had been resolved and everything is current. The version of my credit report that I was able to acquire does not reflect any history of payments over 120 days past-due, and doesn’t reflect ANY late payments in the last 5 years and 8 months.

Anyway, I’m over here catastrophizing and driving myself nuts wondering if this is going to get my clearance denied. Is it a legitimate concern?

Such sad news to read about the passing of your parents- I hope your memories are joyful and comforting.

I wish life could truly be placed on an undefined hold when such challenge takes place - but that’s not the reality. Your scenario of not paying taxes and or other bills as a result of a family members illness/death should allow for some leeway a few weeks or maybe a month following the onset of the problem but - however harsh this may sound life elsewhere (at the IRS for example) still charges onward.

No matter the cause, it’s completely wishful, useless thinking to expect a pardon of any sort from penalty on not paying taxes for a period of years (even deployed military service reasoning has time extension limits). Other examples aside, grief or divided focus causing a lapse in responsibility for that long of time is not a viable reason but an excuse that expires with subjectivity. It was entirely possible to have made payment arrangements of some sort - good faith effort is so much better than excuses. So maybe reign in the excuse facilitation and make some room for working with reality.

Fully reporting on the SF86 was a wise step. Getting your taxes paid in full or an official repayment plan asap are even better actions.

Get a copy of your credit report to see how your student loans are being reported. If you don’t agree, contest the info. Just because info is being contested does not mean you don’t have to report it or dont need to do something more, like pay bills ontime or show some responsibility by contacting the location where debt it owed to make arrangements.

Yes, your concerns are legitimate if your focus is only in making excuses. It sounds like getting assistance is a good step forward.

Under the circumstances you mentioned I don’t believe anyone here will tell you flat out your clearance will be denied or that you are completely safe and it’s a sure grant.

Financial Mitigation via good faith payment is a saving grace which the whole person concept will support - just don’t ruin it by repeatedly not paying bills and believing life event excuses will protect you from repercussions for long periods of time.

Best wishes for a successful conclusion!

Thank you so much for your response and feedback.

I didn’t intend to come across as making excuses- I understand why it could be interpreted as such, but I was really just trying to explain what was going on in my life that resulted in such questionable decision-making (as in, this isn’t the way I normally function, and as such, don’t expect these issues to continue now that my life has “settled” down). Additionally, all of my taxes are now filed and paid in-full, and I have retained professional help for getting them filed on time in the future.

Regarding the student loan payments- the credit report I pulled does not list any debt being late past 120 days, so I am currently awaiting payment histories from the loan servicer regarding the accounts in question in order to submit to the investigator. Currently, everything is up-to-date and has been for several years.

Again, I am very grateful for your feedback and appreciate the guidance you provided!