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Frequently Asked Questions: Who Must File and Which Form to Use

how to find last years tax return

AARP Foundation. Updated January 2015

Q: How do I get a copy of last year’s tax return?

A: A taxpayer can get copies of his/her return or a transcript (often all that is needed) by calling the IRS at 800-908-9946 or referring to these instructions. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide does NOT keep records.

Q: I withdrew $350 from an IRA. Can I use the 1040EZ or do I need to use the 1040?

A: If you have a filing requirement, you will have to use either Form 1040A or Form 1040 to report the IRA distribution.

Q: I have not yet filed my last year's taxes. How much trouble am I in?

A: If you owe additional tax you will probably have a failure-to-file and a failure-to-pay-on-time penalty plus interest. There are no penalties if you are due a refund. However, you have only three years from the due date of the return to file and claim a refund.

Q: My mother was informed by both the IRS and a tax adviser that she didn't have to file returns. Consequently, since her income has been the same, she has not filed a return for a few years. I've never heard that anyone was exempt from filing a tax return and would like to know if this is true.

A: Yes, it is possible. Whether you have to file is a function of your taxable gross income, filing status, whether you are at least age 65, whether you are someone's dependent and whether you have self-employment income. You can find the actual filing requirements in IRS Pub 501 under the heading "Who Must File."

Q: I am retired and collecting Social Security benefits. I have other income and it is possible that some of my benefits will be taxed. Which form do I need to use?

A: Forms 1040 and 1040A are the only two forms that have a line where you can report taxable social security. The instructions for both those forms have a worksheet that you may use to calculate taxable social security.

Q: I am a full-time college student. My parents claim me as an exemption. I work part time for the college. Do I have to file a tax return?

A: Whether or not you have to file will depend upon whether your earned and/or unearned income exceeds certain limits. See the two sections in IRS Pub 501 called "Self-employed Persons" and "Dependents."

If you find that filing a return is not required, you should file a federal income tax return to obtain a refund of any income tax withheld from your pay.

Category: Taxes

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