Are there programs that the IRS employs for people who never knew about their tax duties until now?

Yes. There are several IRS programs (e.g.,The Streamline Program / Voluntary Disclosure Program) for Americans overseas who have refrained from filing taxes in the US. Please be aware that when filling, you are NOT automatically filing under this program. Your US tax advisor knows how to correctly file through the program. The program provides important benefits and reductions (number of years you have to file, fines, etc.).

Source: Streamlined Procedure
Source: OVDP explained

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