Even the most detail-oriented and conscientious individual may need to know how to file back taxes for free. Regardless of circumstances, filing back taxes is the civic duty of every citizen. The Internal Revenue Service has made it easier than ever to file back taxes for free, accepting returns from previous years online or in the mail.
To file back taxes for free you will need:
- W-2 or income statements from the year you need to file
- Form 1099-INT or 1099-DIV from all financial institutions from the year you need to file
- All other applicable tax documents from the year you need to file
- Online tax software or IRS Form 1040 from the year you need to file
- Determine if you owe back taxes. Tax laws change year to year. If you are unsure if you are required to file back taxes, consult the tax form (IRS Form 1040) for the year in question. Requirement to file are outlined by income level and filing status. You can also call the IRS directly to determine if you must file back taxes.
- Obtain tax forms from the year in question. To file back taxes, you will need to fill out the tax form (IRS Form 1040) from the year in question. These forms can be obtained by calling the IRS and having them mailed to you, online at the IRS website, or at some local libraries. Certain online tax preparation software also allows a tax payer to fill out tax forms from previous years.
- Gather all related tax documents for the year you need to file. W-2 forms can be obtained from previous employers directly. If they no longer have a copy of your W-2, a copy can be obtained from the IRS. Call your banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders and other appropriate institutions to obtain copies of all required tax documents.
- Fill out the appropriate tax form. Either online or by hand, complete a tax form from the year in question. A certified public accountant or other tax preparer may be utilized for more complex tax returns. Mail the tax form to the address indicated on that form.
- Pay any back taxes, penalties and fees due. It is difficult to calculate the exact amount of taxes, fees and penalties due the Internal Revenue Service. Call the IRS to get an exact figure. If you do not have the funds to pay the back taxes, the IRS can help by establishing an installment plan.
Ignoring back taxes can lead to significant financial penalties or even jail time. If you owe back taxes, file the returns and contact the IRS as soon as it is possible to do so.
References:IRS:Past-Due Tax Returns