How to File Taxes Without the Previous Year's Return

by Jessica Kent ; Updated July 27, 2017

When tax time rolls around, you may not be able to locate your previous year's tax return. While the previous year's return is useful, it is not necessary to prepare your current-year return. Take a careful step-by-step approach to preparing the current year tax return and ensure all taxable events are included. It helps to make a list of any new taxable, or deductible, situations before even beginning to prepare the return.

Step 1

Gather your tax documents for the current year, including W-2's, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B (for stock sales), K-1's, 1098s (for mortgage interest), real estate tax documents and charitable contributions.

Step 2

Enter the data in the relevant fields of IRS Form 1040 and related schedules. For example, dividends received per Form 1099-DIV are reported on Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends.

Step 3

Review your tax return carefully. Think about the past year and any new income-producing activities or expenses you incurred. For example, did you open a new bank account that provides interest? Did you rollover a 401k from an old job into a new 401k or IRA account? Did you refinance your home and have an additional mortgage? Did you donate to a new charity this year?

Step 4

Enter any additional information into your return. After preparing your tax return from the documents you have, review it once, then leave it alone for a few days.

Step 5

Review the return once again to ensure all taxable situations have been covered. Once certain your return is accurate, mail it to the appropriate IRS office based on your residency.


  • IRS tax forms change every year. Use the correct form for the tax year you are preparing your return for.

About the Author

Jessica Kent started writing professionally in 2002. Her articles have appeared in publications including the New York State Bar Association's "Family Law Review," "Valuation Strategies" and "Metropolitan Corporate Counsel." Through her writing, she strives to assist people in making informed financial decisions. She is a Certified Public Accountant in New York. Kent holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Binghamton University.

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