Skip to main content

Overview

The IRS requires you to file a tax return each year that your income is greater than your standard deduction if you are not the dependent to another taxpayer. Many taxpayers fail to file a return even when required to do so. If you are one of them, you are probably racking up interest and penalties on back taxes every month you are late. Your obligation to file these returns never goes away, but catching up may be easier than you think.

Our TurboTax Live experts look out for you. Expert help your way: get help as you go, or hand your taxes off. You can talk live to tax experts online for unlimited answers and advice OR, have a dedicated tax expert do your taxes for you, so you can be confident in your tax return. Enjoy . 

Step 1: Collect income information

Gather as much information as you can about your income for the years you need to file. You'll need your prior W-2s and 1099s for those years. If you are missing a W-2 and cannot obtain a copy from your employer, you can request a substitute from the IRS by filing an IRS Form 4852, which you can find on the TurboTax website.

If you sold any capital assets in those years, such as stocks, you need to report this income as well. However, if your goal is to stop penalties and interest from accruing, you can always estimate your income and make a tax payment before receiving a copy of your 1099 or W-2.

Step 2: Determine deductions to reduce taxable income

Reduce your tax bill with deductions. Just because you are filing your return late doesn't mean you forfeit the deductions you could have taken. If you plan on itemizing deductions, you need to obtain whatever documentation you have that supports each deduction.

If you don't have this, you can always claim the standard deduction for each of those years. You can also reduce your tax by claiming deductions and credits for any dependents you were eligible to claim in the prior years. You need the names and Social Security numbers for each dependent you claim.

Scroll to Continue

bovada Recommends

Maximize your deductions and get every tax break you qualify for when you file your taxes with TurboTax Deluxe. We'll search over 350 tax deductions and credits to make sure you get the maximum refund possible. Start for free, and when you file. 

, we'll ask you simple questions about your life and help you fill out all the right tax forms. With TurboTax, you can be confident your taxes are done right, from simple to complex tax returns, no matter what your situation.