What to do if I never filed taxes before?

What should you do if you never filed taxes before on income or are filing taxes for the first time?

Unless if you were working under the table, your employers were required to give you a copy of this form (or something similar) on January following the tax year. For example, as we are approaching the end of January 2014, if you worked in 2013 you should have received a form similar to this. You might have received a form that looks a little different, but it would say w-2, the tax year, and all the numbers and titles for the boxes would be the same as the linked one.


What to do if I never filed taxes before?

Filing taxes for the first time is not as scary as it sounds. With a little bit of time and some planning, any one can file their taxes, usually with the help of online software and sometimes with the help of an accountant if needed.


Federal Income Tax Withheld

If on any form there was a number in box 2 “Federal Income Tax Withheld,” you would most likely be eligible to receive that amount back as a tax refund.

According to this article you have three years from the due date to file tax returns. Since returns are due on April 15th, if you file before April 15th this year you should be able to file for 2010, 2011, and 2012 – the 2010 tax returns were due on April 15th, 2011.

Your previous employers are probably the quickest way of getting old W2’s. They shouldkeep a copy for a few years, though it wouldn’t be surprising if they lost them or if they keep old w2s in storage somewhere that isn’t easily accessible.


Requesting Tax Transcript from IRS

The alternative to contacting your employers is to request your tax transcript from the IRS (information regarding that can be found here). I would guess that this is probably the busiest time of year for that department of the IRS, however, so it is probably best to try your previous employers first.

As for whether it is worth it to pursue past years returns, that is hard to say. It would be a shame to go through the effort of filing previous year returns and only get $10 back. Though from the information provided it seems like any withholdings would be completely refunded, and if one year $300 was indeed withheld that seems like it would make up for the time invested in the process.