Can You File Federal Taxes Without a 1099 Form?

by Tara Thomas ; Updated March 15, 2018

When you’re a freelancer or self-employed, you might receive dozens of 1099s from jobs you’ve worked all year. But, in the event you’ve lost your 1099, or never received one in the first place, don’t stress. You’re still able to file federal tax returns without one. There are many situations in which you may find yourself not receiving a 1099 or misplacing it. Unlike W-2s, the IRS typically does not require you to attach a copy of your 1099 to your return when you file taxes. However, this is when you’ll be glad you kept meticulous records of all your earnings for the year.

Do I Need My 1099 to File Taxes?

Your 1099-MISC form details your earnings from a particular client or payer. If you’ve kept an accurate accounting of all your expenses and earnings for the year, then filing your federal tax return without the 1099 form should not be a problem. The IRS uses the information reported on a 1099 so that return processors can double-check what you are reporting as income. Simply take the information from your records of how much you were paid for a particular job, and include this when you go to file your taxes.

Sometimes you’re unsure, or cannot remember, how much you received from a specific payer. In this case, it is best to overestimate the amount of earnings, rather than underestimating them. At most, you will receive a refund of the overpaid taxes. However, if you fail to report all of your income accurately, you could face penalties. For jobs under $600, payers are not required to submit a 1099 to the IRS, so you may not receive a 1099 from that client at all. If you haven’t received your 1099 by February, you can contact your client and make sure he has the correct address on file for you.

Keep in mind, you should be cautious when requesting a duplicate. If a payer sends a duplicate, the IRS may think you received this income twice. It is best to make sure the payer has not already sent your 1099 to the IRS when requesting a duplicate.

Sourcing the Information Elsewhere

Not everyone receives a Form 1099 from jobs they’ve worked. Banks and investment firms use 1099s to report interest or dividends taxpayers have received from investments. The IRS has several versions of the 1099 used to report various types of income not received from standard employment wages, and therefore not included on Form W-2. If you’ve lost a 1099-DIV (dividends and distributions) or a Form 1099-INT (interest income), then you may be able to find the information reported elsewhere.

Banks and investment firms generally have your account statements available for you to check at anytime online. Use either an end-of-year quarterly statement, or a statement from December or January, to figure interest and dividends paid for the year. Usually, banks and other financial institutions include year-to-date summaries of your accounts. If you’re unable to access this information online, contact the institution directly to inquire about the dividends and interest you earned.

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Filing an Amended Return

In the event you finally receive your 1099, keep it for your records and double-check it against what you reported when you filed taxes for the year. If you underestimated the amount, you will need to file an amended return, Form 1040X, with the final 1099 total. Filing an amended return protects you in the event the IRS takes a closer look at your return.

About the Author

Tara Thomas has been a writer and traveler since 1997. Her articles appear in various online publications. She also has experience authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory, which helped her develop a lifelong interest in environmentalism. Thomas is an event planner, has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, and worked as a mortgage consultant since 1998.

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