Have you fallen behind on filing your tax returns? If so, don’t panic. There are various reasons why someone may be unable or unwilling to file on time. An unexpected death in the family or a medical emergency can make it difficult to deal with other tasks. In many cases, people also put off filing because they are worried that they may owe taxes. Unfortunately, postponing your tax filing can also lead to other issues, such as missing forms and records. Although this can complicate matters, there are some workarounds. Just follow the steps below to learn how to file late tax returns with missing documents.
How to File a Late Tax Return With Missing Documents
Filing a late tax return when you are missing the necessary records isn’t as difficult as you may think. There are certain things you can do to fill in the missing pieces and submit your return.
Request a Tax Transcript From The IRS
First, request your tax transcript from the IRS. You can order copies of your wage and income statements (W-2s, 1099s, etc.), as well as other tax account information. Transcript requests can be made online, by mail, or by phone (800-908-9946). To view, print, or download your transcript online, you will need to create an ID.me account if you don’t already have an IRS account. The process takes approximately 20-30 minutes. If you request a transcript by phone or mail, it will take approximately 5-10 calendar days for you to receive your records.
It’s important to note that the online system is limited to 85 documents. If you have more than that, the transcript will not generate and you’ll receive a notification to submit Form 4506-T.
Be sure that your current address is on file with the IRS. Transcripts won’t be forwarded if they are sent to an old address. If you need to update your address, file Form 8822, Change of Address, before sending Form 4506-T.
Gather Other Supporting Documentation
You can also request copies of tax forms from your previous or current employers. If you are self-employed, pull bank and credit card statements, as well as payment processor ( Cash App, Venmo, etc.) records to determine your income and expenses for the tax year(s) in question. You may also need to contact medical facilities, charitable organizations, and other companies if you plan to deduct expenses on your return or claim certain credits. If you gamble, you can request a win/loss statement from any casino, cruise line, or other gambling establishment you frequent.
Download The Correct Tax Forms
Once you have gathered your tax transcript and other documentation, you’ll need to download the necessary tax forms for the year(s) you did not file. You can search for prior year tax forms and instructions on the IRS website. If you use tax software, such as Turbo Tax, you can also use it to access and complete the required forms.
Print & Mail Your Tax Return
Regardless of how you access or complete your late tax return, you will need to print it out and mail it to the IRS. If the return is for the current tax year and it’s after the filing deadline, you may file electronically until November. Older returns must be sent by mail.
Pay Your Tax Bill
If you owe taxes, you’ll need to submit payment when you file your return. You can send in a check with your return or make the payment online. If you can’t pay what you owe, you can request an additional 180 days to pay in full by calling 800-829-1040 or completing the Online Payment Agreement application. For additional time to pay, you may request a long-term payment plan or see if you qualify for other tax relief options.
Reasons to File a Late Tax Return ASAP
One good reason to file your late tax return as soon as possible is to limit the interest charges and late payment penalties. There are, however, several other reasons why you should not put off filing your late returns.
- Claim a Refund. You only have three years from the original filing deadline to claim a refund that may be due. The three-year rule also applies to claiming tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Protect Your Social Security Benefits. If you are self-employed, the income you earned will not be reported to the Social Security Administration until you file your return. This can affect your Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
- Avoid Issues Obtaining Loans. Many financial institutions require copies of your tax returns when processing your application for a mortgage, home equity loan, or business loan. Tax records are also required when requesting federal financial aid.
Don’t Wait For The IRS to File an SFR!
Another reason why you should file your late tax returns as quickly as possible is to avoid having the IRS file a Substitute For Return (SFR). When this happens, the IRS will not include any deductions or credits you may be eligible to claim. This means that you could receive a smaller refund or even owe taxes.
If an SFR is filed on your behalf, you’ll receive a Notice of Deficiency CP3219N (90-day letter) which outlines your proposed tax assessment. You’ll have 90 days to file your late tax return or file a petition in Tax Court. Failure to do either will result in the IRS moving forward with its assessment. If you owe, the IRS may levy your bank accounts and/or wages, or file a tax lien.
Falling behind on your taxes can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. At Tax Defense Network, our team of licensed tax professionals can help you put the missing pieces together and get you back on track with the IRS. If you owe taxes and can’t pay, we can help with that, too! For a free consultation and case review, call 855-476-6920 today.