What to Do When You Are Missing Tax Documents

With a looming filing deadline, many taxpayers worry about how to complete their returns on time when some necessary tax documents are missing. Missing tax documents are your responsibility, but you can usually file your taxes on time even if you do not have all your tax documents ready. It is important to obtain the right information for your tax returns because oversights and small mistakes can lead to costly consequences.

First Step – Contact the Issuer About Your Missing Tax Documents

The first step is to see if you can contact the issuer of each missing tax document to obtain a replacement copy.

Missing 1099 for Miscellaneous Income

For those who are self-employed or freelancers, you should receive a 1099 form from any person or business that pays you over $600. Copies of these 1099s are sent to the IRS, so it is imperative that the income reported on your tax return matches the forms exactly to avoid any red flags or audits.

If you are missing a 1099 form, a replacement should be requested directly from the business or individual for whom you provided work. Even if they do not provide you with a 1099, you are still responsible for reporting the income.

Form 1099 for Interest and Dividends

A bank or financial institution may send you a 1099-DIV or 1099-INT. The deadline to receive these forms is January 31st, so if you have not received your forms from each financial institution by mid-February, you may want to reach out to your financial institution to obtain a replacement copy. With these forms, you do not need to file them with the IRS, so you can get the information from online banking if necessary.


Copies of prior or current W-2s can be requested from the IRS by using the same process for obtaining a prior year’s tax return. This process can take up to 10 days for an online request (up to 30 days for a mail or fax request).

Most employers are willing to provide a copy of your W-2 if you have misplaced the original. Some larger employers even maintain their own online portal where employees can retrieve an electronic version of their W-2.

Next Step: File a Substitute Form When You are Missing Tax Documents

IRS Form 4852 is a substitute form that allows you to file your taxes even if you are missing tax  documents, such as a W-2 or 1099. You can use the one-page form to claim income from a variety of sources and figure your tax liability, even if the issuer is unable to provide original tax documents. On Form 4852 you can claim not only income but also any state and federal taxes deducted from your payments. Filing Form 4852 is better than requesting an extension because it allows you to avoid the interest charges that come with paying your taxes late.

Keep in mind that taxes must be paid on time even if you are granted an extension to file later. For more information on the consequences of not paying your taxes on time, check out my article, Failure to Pay Taxes.

For more information on how we can help you file and pay on time even if you are missing tax documents, contact the experienced professionals at Murray Moyer, PLLC for a consultation.  

Written by Justin Moyer on March 23, 2022.