How to File Prior Year Tax Returns

Tax returns are normally due on April 15th for the prior income year.  For instance, you should have filed and paid yourprior 2010 Income Tax return on April 15, 2011.  Many individuals for a multitude of reasons have prior year tax returns that need to be filed.  There are many reasons why taxes may have been filed late or not at all.  Even if you have not received a letter from the IRS demanding that the prior year tax returns need to be filed and or paid, you should take care of filing the return as soon as possible.

There are many options available to assist you in preparing prior year tax returns.  Hopefully, you have safely stored any and all supporting documents to assist you in completing the return.  Supporting documents might include W-2’s from your employer, 1099’s for any contract work that you completed, receipts and statements for allowable deductions, etc.  The more supporting documentation that you have, the easier it will be to complete the return.  Often, however, these items are not available.  The best thing to do at this point is to contact a tax professional that can help you obtain the paperwork that you need to file the return.  Many times, they can help you complete the form in spite of not having all of the supporting documentation.

filingpriorreturnsIf you plan on filing the tax returns yourself, there is software available that can assist you through the process.  It will probably take you 2-3 hours per return to finalize the return and have it ready to file.  If you plan on doing this yourself, having your supporting documentation readily available is crucial.  You will also likely need to spend a lot of time researching and gathering the appropriate paperwork.  Even if you use software or an online program to prepare prior year returns, you will still need to mail the return to the IRS.  You will not be able to file prior year tax returns electronically or by e-file.

Once you file your prior tax year tax returns, then you will know what, if anything is owed.  If you are due a tax refund, it may be applied to any other outstanding IRS debt that you might have.  It is important to not only work on filing prior year tax returns, but to plan ahead to eliminate future issues with delinquent returns or late filing.

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