How to File Your Taxes Late If Have Unfiled Tax Returns

Unfiled Tax Returns

It is never too late to file your tax returns even if you have not filed for several years. Generally, if you meet filing requirements, you need to file a tax return for this year and the past six years (but the IRS may request a tax return older than six years). It is important that you file your taxes before the IRS finds you (assuming you met filing requirements). If you do not file you could end up facing criminal charges and fines. If you have questions, fill out the form for a guide.

Gather Past Income Tax Return Documents

Longtime non filers tend to lose their old W-2 and 1099 forms. Those forms are essential for filing an accurate tax return. You can start by asking businesses that issued you a W-2 or 1099. But many businesses either go out of business, or don't keep their old records on file.

You can't get copies of W-2 and 1099 forms from the IRS. But the IRS does provide a computer printout with the W-2 and 1099 information on it. Call the IRS and request income data for the missing tax years. It may take several weeks for a written response. All your income may not be reflected on the printout, but it will show the minimum amount you must report on your tax return.

You can also reconstruct your salary records on Form 4852,"Substitute W-2" Attach it to the front of your tax return when you file it.

The Following Are Some "Prior Year Forms and Schedules" You Might Need:

  • Prior/Past Due Years (Limit to individual forms)
  • 1040 Family of Forms
  • Schedules (A, B, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous Forms
  • Form 8812: Additional Child Tax Credit
  • Form 8863: Education Credits
  • Form 2441: Child & Dependent Care Expenses & Instructions
  • Schedule EIC - Earned Income Credit

Important Unfiled Tax Return Warning:

When you prepare your unfiled tax returns, you must use the tax forms for the year you are filing. For example, you can't use 2001 tax forms and change the year to 2010- the IRS makes major changes to its tax forms each year.

Here's some options for obtaining past years' forms:
  • Visit your local IRS office. Don't worry, they shouldn't ask you why you need the forms.
  • Download the forms off the IRS's website. They have forms going back to about six years.
  • Call the IRS forms department. The forms will be mailed out in a week or two.
  • Ask a tax professional for forms.

Prepare and File Forms

After you have the proper forms and publications, you need to sign and date your tax return, and send it to the correct address. Be sure you include all sources of income. Attach any required schedules, forms, and documentation needed to substantiate all line entries.

Sending The Tax Returns

If you have received a notice, be sure to mail your past due return to the IRS address on your notice. Even if the address is different from where you usually send your returns. If you haven't received a notice, send your return to the address in the form instructions or by going here (IRS addresses's for filing). Keep in mind that if you send your past due return to another office it will delay the process.

Unfiled Tax Return Help & Information


Help with Unfiled Tax Returns
Need help filing unfiled tax returns? Let us help! The IRS has an unwritten rule about not prosecuting a taxpayer if they file before the IRS contacts them. Let our experts file and resolve your tax problems.

Details on Filing Back Tax Returns
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How to Request an Extension to File Late
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Consequences of Unfiled Tax Returns
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Details on the Failure to File Tax Penalty
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Details on the Penalty for Filing Taxes Late
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Missing, Lost, or Never Received Your W2?
Find out how you can obtain your W-2

Filing after October 15th Extension
If you requested an extension to you had until October 15th (10/17 in 2011) to file. You still can file. Understand how to file and what penalties you will have to pay