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How to File Back Taxes Without Records: 7 Steps to Get Back on Track

how to file back taxes without records

Settling back taxes is always a complicated affair. However complex the task may be, it is best to clear any issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lest the penalties add up—or worse, the IRS may even seize or freeze your assets, financial accounts, and businesses.

These penalties don’t just come out of nowhere. The IRS would notify taxpayers if they failed to pay their tax liability after filing a return, report all income earned during the tax year, or file a tax return. Those with missing or incomplete records of their tax filings can still recover and be in the good graces of the IRS.

If you’re in this situation, here are ways you can file back taxes with incomplete records.

How to File Back Taxes Without Records in 7 Steps

  1. Gather existing documents

The first step is to gather documents that state your wages and income from the years you failed to report them. For most taxpayers, you can find this data in Forms W-2 and 1099.

Form W-2 shows your tax liabilities, tax refunds, previous company wages, annual retirement contributions, employee contributions to healthcare, dependent care benefits, and more.

Meanwhile, Form 1099 comes in different iterations for retirement distributions (1099-R), Social Security benefits (SSA-1099), interest (1099-INT), sale of a home (1099-S), and other income streams.

If you can’t find these forms, your tax preparer can obtain a copy of your tax records and preparation needs from the IRS. If you can’t get these documents due to a natural disaster, you can recover your tax documents to prove the damages to your assets and the amount incurred by losses.

  1. Contact your previous employers for a copy of your tax documents

If you changed jobs in the past year, you could request your Form W-2 from your previous employer before the end of January. Some employers mail W-2s late or don’t respond to requests at all. 

Check if your address matches your previous employer’s record to resolve this. If not, you must fill out a change-of-address form at your local post office for them to forward your request to your new address. Alternatively, you could search your email for a digital copy or a link to get your Form W-2 on time.

You can also contact your employer or its third-party payroll administrator, if any, to nudge them about your tax documents.

  1. Request a tax transcript from the IRS

You can order a tax transcript from the IRS for free by filing Form 4506-T. The agency can provide the transcript and other documents such as a record of account and verification of non-filing by phone, mail, or online.

For security purposes, these documents only show your financial entries – such as your wages – and hide personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and Social Security number.

Remember that you can only get tax return records for the past three years.

  1. Request copies of previous tax returns

You can request copies of your previous tax returns from the IRS for a $43 fee per copy. Simply complete and mail Form 4506 to the IRS. Note that your earlier tax returns are available for the current and previous three years.

  1. Download previous IRS forms

Download the necessary tax forms from the IRS’s website once you’ve gathered all your documents. However, make sure to download forms for the appropriate years you missed. For example, if you have a missing tax return from 2021, you should use the form for the same year.

  1. Fill out the forms accurately

IRS forms come with different guidelines, which is why you should follow instructions when filling out the necessary forms for your taxes. Doing so would prevent errors and delays as you settle your back taxes.

  1. Submit the completed returns to the IRS

Once you’ve filled out the necessary forms, submit them to the IRS address where you file your tax return. The IRS typically takes six weeks to process an accurately completed past-due tax return. You can call the agency at 800-829-1040 to inquire about your return filing status.

Settle Your Back Taxes Today

Filing back taxes with missing or incomplete records can take time and effort. Still, settling your tax liabilities and penalties will be rewarding.

If you are faced with a tax problem and need an expert to help you resolve the issue, reach out to tax negotiation service providers, such as Peace of Mind Tax Help. Our team of leading experts in tax negotiation and mediation can help you minimize your tax liability. Contact us today to start settling your back taxes!

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