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Posted by admin on November 3, 2021
Last modified: November 3, 2021

Don’t stress about how to file prior year taxes. It is a step-by-step process that you can follow to file your prior year tax returns with confidence. Getting on top of filing prior year taxes may be easier than you think.

Filing your prior year taxes may also have the added benefits, including: 

  • helping you claim tax refunds owed, 
  • protecting your social security benefits if you’re self-employed, 
  • and avoiding issues when looking to get a loan approved from your bank.
file prior year taxes
file prior year taxes

What Do You Need to File Prior Year taxes?

Like when filing your tax return normally, to file prior year taxes, you will need to collect all of your income information for the tax year you are preparing your return.

These would include documents such as W-2 forms with information about your wages, salaries, and tips and 1099 forms for your other sources of income like bank accounts or self-employment income.

You may also need your AGI (adjusted gross income) amount from your prior year tax return to validate your identity for filing your taxes online.

When these tax records are missing, and you cannot obtain copies, you can request a free tax transcript from the IRS, which will summarize your return information, including AGI. Tax transcripts are available going back to the past three tax years. To obtain tax transcripts, you can order them via the IRS website, via phone, and via mail by completing and mailing Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ.

An actual copy of a prior tax return can be requested from the IRS, going back even further than the past six tax years. However, they are only available for a fee. To obtain copies, you need to complete and mail Form 4506.

With your documents in order and the required information to hand, it’s now a question of how to file prior year taxes for each year you are looking to file.

1. Figure out if you were required to file a tax return for each year you are looking into filing your prior year taxes.

For each tax year in question, take a look at the threshold for minimum gross income set by the IRS. Depending on your personal circumstances and annual gross income for each year, the IRS may not have required you to file a tax return for that year.

2. Figure out what deductions and credits are relevant to your situation.

Deductions and credits will help to reduce your taxable income and are still relevant even when filing prior year taxes.

  • If you are itemizing deductions on your prior year tax return: you will need to collect the relevant documentation to support each deduction.
  • If you are claiming dependents on your prior year tax return: you will need the names and social security numbers for each of your dependents.

3. Obtain the correct tax forms for your return and for the tax year you are filing.

Tax forms are year-specific. So, prior year tax returns will need to be filed using the original tax forms for the specific year. You will also need to identify which documents you need for your financial and personal circumstances.

4. Fill out your tax forms.

Tax forms will come with instructions specific to that year’s version of the form. Therefore, when filing prior year taxes, it’s essential to make sure that you are using the instructions for the specific year that you are filing your return.

5. Mail off your tax return and supporting documents.

The address that you will need to send your paperwork to appears on the filing instructions. The IRS states that it takes them approximately six weeks to process completed prior year tax returns after they receive them. 

What Years’ Prior Tax Return Can be Filed?

If you are expecting a tax refund: You have three years from your original deadline to file prior year taxes and claim your refund. This means that you have until April 15, 2023 to claim your refund for your 2019 taxes overpaid. And you have until April 15, 2022 to claim your refund for you 2018 taxes overpaid . And you had until May 17, 2021 to claim your refund for your 2017 taxes overpaid.

If you owe taxes: You have no deadline to file prior year taxes. However, it is usually a good idea for you to file prior year taxes in this case. This is even if you are not currently in a position to pay your full unpaid tax bill.

The IRS has both late filing and late payment penalties, which make your tax bill even higher. Three things are good to know here:

  1. You aren’t penalized twice if you don’t file prior year taxes or pay the corresponding prior year tax bills.
  2. You begin to accumulate interest that compounds daily on your unpaid tax bill from one day after the bill was due.
  3. The IRS’s late filing penalty typically works out most costly than their late payment penalty. The late filing penalty is 5% of the taxes you owe for each month unpaid plus interest compared with 0.5% of the taxes you owe for each month outstanding plus interest.

Visit us today if you are looking to file prior year taxes online. Don’t wait any longer to get your back taxes in order because PriorTax can help guide you through the process if you don’t know how to file prior year taxes.

Our application guides you through the filing process with simple prompts to learn about tax and financial situations. PriorTax answers any of your questions along the way and reviews and preps your documents for filing. 

Did you miss the deadline to file your current year taxes? You have until October 15 to fully file your tax return online, from prepping all the way to e-filing. However, you can’t use e-file when you file prior year taxes from 2019 and earlier. But, with us, you can file prior year taxes online right up to the point when you print, sign, and mail it off.