In 2002, I lost a good job, and subsequently my home. I tried freelancing in the same field, but was not successful and my financial situation continued to worsen - various other poor choices led to other problems. Between 2003 and the next few years, I was occasionally homeless and did whatever odd jobs I could to make a living. I made very little during this time (12K, 14K, 12K and 6K, finally to 0 in 2007 before moving to another state and getting my life back in order). By 2009, I was making a living and filed taxes normally (which has continued through present).
A couple weeks ago I received 3 letters from the IRS looking for back taxes for 2003, 2004 and 2005. With penalties and interest, they want just over 16K, and when I spoke with them, they said 2006 through 2008 needed to be filed as well.
As I mentioned, I was transient for large chunks of time during those years, and don't have any paperwork or record of any possible deductions - the only records I have is the 1099 transcripts IRS sent after I requested them after receiving the notices. I still do the same kind of work, and can get a general idea of what costs I incur as related to my gross (by using 2009, 2010 and 2011 information), but IRS says that I have to have supporting documentation for any deductions I claim.
I guess my question is just - with the above in mind - is there anything I can do? From my conversations with IRS, it doesn't look like they're willing to work with me at all, even though I'd expect had I filed normally, I wouldn't owe much (if anything).
TYIA for any advice.