IRS Tax Returns: Filing Guidelines for Average Taxpayers

IRS Tax Returns Tips & Guidelines

irs tax returns tips
With all the IRS horror stories out there, you may be surprised to find that many of them could be completely avoided by handling IRS tax returns appropriately. The right way to manage your IRS tax returns doesn't stop with how you fill them out. You also need to consider what forms you are filing, how you file them, and what to do with them once they are filed.

What Forms to File & Where to Find Them

For most taxpayers, a Form 1040 is used. It allows you to document a long list of income, deductions, and tax credits. If you want a simpler tax form and meet certain requirements, you may be able to file a 1040A or 1040EZ instead. If you are self-employed, you will be required to file and pay quarterly estimated taxes with a 1040ES.

All of these forms can be found on the IRS website. If you are attempting to catch up on back IRS tax returns, you can even find prior year forms online. They are all available in PDF format. If you have no way to download them online, you can get them from taxpayer assistance centers or call 1-800-829-3676 to have them mailed to you. During tax season, you can even pick up your tax forms from post offices, grocery stores, and libraries.

How to File Your IRS Tax Returns

If you are filing personal IRS tax returns, e-filing may be the best method for you. Not only is e-filing quick, it tends to be more accurate and much more secure. It takes less time for the IRS to process, and you will receive your confirmation promptly. However, it has its limitations. You can't e-file if your filing status is Married Filing Separately or if you live in a community property state. You also can't e-file back IRS tax returns.

If you need to mail your IRS tax returns, make sure you put your name and social security number on the back and front of every page. Double check all of your information. Make sure that you mail your IRS tax returns to the IRS Service Center designated for your state and is addressed to out to the "Department of Treasury." You can find the correct address online or call the IRS hotline.

What to Do Once You Have Filed

It is very important that you keep your IRS tax returns and related records until they are no longer needed. The IRS does not always receive IRS tax returns sent to them, and you never know when an IRS audit may pop up either. The following list shows how long you should keep your IRS tax returns and records for different situations.

  • 3 years if you owe tax debt and filed your IRS tax returns correctly.
  • 6 years if you did not report a large amount of income required on your return.
  • 7 years if you claimed a loss from worthless securities or a bad debt deduction.

If you do not file IRS tax returns, you need to keep every one of your tax-related records on hand indefinitely. The same rule applies to IRS tax returns filed fraudulently. If either of those situations applies to you, you should definitely hire a tax professional to get your IRS tax returns filed properly. Otherwise, you could wind up with a steep tax debt or even go to tax court. Business and employment IRS tax returns have their own separate rules. If you are missing IRS tax returns, you can order copies by phone, mail, or online.

If you need help getting caught up with your IRS tax returns, consult a professional. Call now or fill out the form below for a free tax debt consultation to get back on track with your IRS tax returns! We'll only connect you with a tax debt relief company holding at least a B rating with the Better Business Bureau.

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