What You Need To Know

If you didn’t file your tax return last year, it’s not too late to do the right thing! While the IRS encourages you to file as soon as possible, sometimes life gets in the way and things don’t always go as planned. Regardless of why you didn’t file your tax return by the deadline, you should file it as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn how to file a prior-year tax return.

Your 2021 tax returns were due on April 18, 2022. If you file after the deadline and owe taxes, you may face late filing or late tax payment penalties. But you will not face the late filing penalty if you file a return or extension by tax day, even if you can’t pay the amount due that day.

Do I Need to File?

Filing requirements are based on your income, age, dependency status, and any tax credits you may need to claim.

You should file if you: 

  • Earned any wages
  • Received a pension
  • Received unemployment
  • Earned no income in 2020, you must file to claim Stimulus and Child Tax Credit

What Happens if You Don’t File?

  1. If you expect a refund and don’t file your tax return, there is no penalty for not filing. But if you don’t file your return within three years from the April deadline, you lose your refund altogether (ex. your 2021 taxes can be filed no later than April 15, 2024).
  2. If you owe, penalties will be applied. Always file before the deadline!
  3. Other people don’t file because they have a tax bill they can’t afford to pay. But if you skip filing your taxes to avoid paying, the IRS will charge you interest and penalties for each month you are late, making matters worse. You can contact the IRS to create a payment plan that you can afford.

Steps to File a Prior Year Return

Filing a tax return for the previous year isn’t difficult, but following these two steps will make it a smooth process.

Step #1 Gather Required Information
You must have all the necessary documents for the tax year you’re filing, including W-2 and 1099 forms and any information you qualify for regarding credits or deductions.

The IRS may have what you need if you’re missing some tax information. They keep all the returns you have submitted over the past ten years. Visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript and create an account to access these records.

You can also request a transcript of a prior tax year by filling out Form 4506-T Request for Transcript of Tax Return. Unfortunately, it won’t provide any information about credits or deductions you’re entitled to, so you will still need to file a tax return.

Step #2 Complete and File Your Tax Return

CWF Can Help You File Prior Year Tax Returns

If you haven’t filed your tax return yet, don’t panic. If you’re a working family or an individual in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, or Southern New Jersey earning less than $65,000 per year, you can get free professional help from Campaign for Working Families (CWF). Our IRS-certified CWF tax preparers will help you every step of the way.