If you don’t have your Form 1099-R and need to file your tax return or forgot about your 1099-R when you filed, here’s what you can do.
I don’t have my Form 1099-R.
If you don’t have your 1099-R and haven’t filed your tax return, tax these three steps. If you already filed without your 1099-R form, take these steps then see below for what to do if you filed your taxes wrong.
Check your online account.
A lot of brokerage firms and other retirement plan providers don’t mail 1099s anymore. Many of them don’t even email you or you missed the email. (Sometimes the email says something vague like new message in your account.)
Instead, your Form 1099-R will just appear in your online account. So log in and look for a section that says Tax Documents, Statements, Messages, or something similar.
You may also see that they do mail paper forms but your address is out of date. That’s common with old retirement accounts.
Contact customer service.
The due date for you to have Form 1099-R is usually January 31st. Add a few days for mailing if the company mails it.
If you can’t find your 1099 by then and they haven’t told you it’s in the mail, call or email them.
Do the same if you never updated your address. Updating your address now will only make sure next year’s tax statement goes to the right place.
File your taxes anyway.
Technically, you don’t actually need your 1099-R form. You just need the information on it.
If you use tax filing software, it will usually have you enter your 1099-R so it’s easy for you to just copy off of the form.
If you don’t actually have the form, you should still know how much money you withdrew and from where. Just enter the numbers.
The part that can get tricky is the distribution codes. There is a list of codes in the IRS instructions for Form 1099-R.
Find the code that matches the reason for your withdrawal. If you have an exception that’s not listed, you usually choose the code for no exception and then fill out some additional forms to add your exception. See Does a 1099-R Tax Form Mean You Owe Taxes?
The most important thing is to report the right amount of income and pay the right amount of income tax. You don’t want to not pay enough and get a tax bill for your tax liability plus more penalties.
I filed without my 1099-R.
If you filed without your 1099-R form (and didn’t enter the correct information on your tax return), it’s not the end of the world, but you should usually fix it ASAP.
Will the IRS catch a missing Form 1099-R?
The IRS should catch a missing Form 1099-R nearly 100% of the time. That’s because they automatically match your tax return against your 1099s.
It can take a few months, but you should eventually get a CP2000 notice saying you have unreported income. The notice will explain the taxes and early withdrawal penalty (if applicable) that you should have paid. It will also include additional penalties and interest for not paying your taxes.
How do I respond to a notice for a missing Form 1099-R?
If you didn’t include your 1099-R on your individual income tax return, you’ll usually be writing the IRS a check. But you may not owe as much as your notice says.
Since you didn’t tell the IRS about your retirement withdrawal, it usually assumes the worse — that you made an unqualified early withdrawal and owe the full taxes and penalties.
If you did have a qualified reason for your withdrawal, you can send back an explanation letter to the IRS. They’ll take off any penalties and taxes that you didn’t owe and only charge you for what you did owe. In some cases, they may ask for additional documentation first.
File an amended return before the IRS contacts you.
If you realize that you left off a Form 1099-R or made other mistakes on your tax return, you usually want to file an amended return instead of waiting for an IRS notice.
If you amend and pay the extra taxes by April 15th, you won’t owe penalties or interest.
If you amend and pay after April 15th, you’ll likely owe penalties and interest for not paying enough taxes by the original deadline. But if you wait for the IRS to contact you, the penalties and interest will usually be bigger since you’ll be paying even later.
The IRS takes 8+ weeks to process amended returns. In some cases, they’ll send you a letter before they process your amended return. Check that their changes are the changes you already made on your amended tax return then reply back that you already amended your taxes.
If their changes are different than yours, you’ll need to review why. Often, it will be that they didn’t know that you had a qualifying withdrawal without seeing your amended tax return. If it’s something else, you may want to contact a tax professional.
Can I just file my taxes again?
You should never file two tax returns for the same year even if it’s before April 15th.
If you file online, the IRS will automatically reject the second tax return. If you file again by paper, the IRS should reject the paper return. If they catch that your paper return is a second tax return, it could cause problems on your account that lead to you spending hours on hold with the IRS.
You also usually can’t cancel your tax return after you file. Once you hit send, it’s like dropping it in the mailbox.
The only way to fix your tax return is to file an amended return.
What if I got a corrected Form 1099-R?
You normally treat a missing or corrected Form 1099-R the same way. If it changes what you owe, you usually need to file an amended tax return.
If you ended up owing more, you’ll have to pay the IRS more. If you ended up owing less, you’ll need to amend to get a tax refund.
If the corrected form was due to your broker’s error and not something that you requested, you should call them up and ask them to pay your penalties and/or amended tax return filing fee. Some will do it automatically, while others will usually fight you until you talk to someone higher up or file a Better Business Bureau complaint.