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Emc1122
Level 2

Filing back taxes

I need to know how to go about filing 2019 taxes and 2020 taxes. Should I start with the current year 2020 and efile to be safe ? After that should I file the 2019 on paper ? What is the best process to file both consecutively? I don’t want to file 2019 on paper first and then it mess up 2020 e filing . Any assistance is appreciated . 

6 Replies
xmasbaby0
Level 15

Filing back taxes

Each tax year has to be filed separately using the forms for the specific tax year.  They cannot be combined in any way--do not even put them in the same envelope when you mail them.  Software for past years is available back to 2017.  Any earlier years can only be prepared on paper forms by hand--and those refunds have been forfeited now.

 

The current online program can only be used for a 2020 return--no other year.  And if you did not file a 2019 return you will have trouble e-filing 2020.  When it asks for your 2019 AGI try using zero.  If zero does not work then you have to print, sign and mail 2020.

 

 

Online preparation and e-filing for 2017, 2018 and 2019 is permanently closed.

To file a return for a prior tax year

 If you need to prepare a return for 2017, 2018, or 2019 you can purchase and download desktop software to do it, then print, sign,  and mail the return(s)

https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/past-years-products/

You may also want to explore purchasing the software from various retailers such as Amazon, Costco, Best Buy, Walmart, Sam’s, etc.

Remember to prepare your state return as well—if you live in a state that has a state income tax.

When you mail a tax return, you need to attach any documents showing tax withheld, such as your W-2’s or any 1099’s.  Use a mailing service that will track it, such as UPS or certified mail so you will know the IRS/state received the return.

Federal and state returns must be in separate envelopes and they are mailed to different addresses.  Read the mailing instructions that print with your tax return carefully so you mail them to the right addresses.

 

Note:  The desktop software you need to prepare the prior year return must be installed/downloaded to a full PC or Mac.  It cannot be used on a mobile device.

 

If you are getting a refund, there is not a penalty for filing past the deadline.  If you owe taxes, the interest/penalties will be calculated by the IRS based on how much you owe and when they receive your return and payment. The IRS will bill you for this; it will not be calculated by TurboTax.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
AnnetteB6
Employee Tax Expert

Filing back taxes

My recommendation would be to create the 2019 tax return first.  Because electronic filing is not available for prior year returns, the 2019 return will need to be filed by mail.  The advantage to completing the 2019 return first is to be sure that there are no carryover items (such as capital losses, unused home office expense, etc.) that could affect the 2020 tax return.  

 

Then, you can work on your 2020 tax return and it can be electronically filed.

 

Using TurboTax, you will need to purchase and download one of the installed versions of the program in order to file the 2019 return.  You may want to consider using a CD/downloaded version of TurboTax for your 2020 return as well.  Once the 2019 return is completed and saved on your computer, the 2020 program can import the 2019 file to give you a head start and bring in any carryover items.  You can still electronically file the 2020 return from the installed version of TurboTax.

 

Also, the only reason you would need to be concerned about when you file each return would be if there were items carried forward from 2019 to 2020.  If that is the case, it may be better to mail the 2019 first and give it time to be processed before submitting the 2020 return.  

 

 

@Emc1122

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Emc1122
Level 2

Filing back taxes

I don’t have any carry over items but will owe for 2019. So I should file the 2019 first and mail it in and wait for processing before filing the 2020 electronically ? I have heard irs is very behind and may not get to the paper return for close to a year (not sure if this is true ). I will have a refund for 2020- so was trying to offset the 2019 tax due by 2020 refund that I will have . I’m trying to make this as seamless as possible being there IRS is very slow . Thank you for replying ! Someone else had advised me to start with the current year first and work back - to minimize the delays but I think this makes more sense . I appreciate your time !

Emc1122
Level 2

Filing back taxes

I don’t have any carry over items but will owe for 2019. So I should file the 2019 first and mail it in and wait for processing before filing the 2020 electronically ? I have heard irs is very behind and may not get to the paper return for close to a year (not sure if this is true ). I will have a refund for 2020- so was trying to offset the 2019 tax due by 2020 refund that I will have . I’m trying to make this as seamless as possible being there IRS is very slow . Thank you for replying ! Someone else had advised me to start with the current year first and work back - to minimize the delays but I think this makes more sense . I appreciate your time !

AnnetteB6
Employee Tax Expert

Filing back taxes

Since you are certain you do not have any carryover items that will affect the order of filing your returns, it may still be beneficial to complete the 2019 return first if you choose to use the CD/downloaded version of TurboTax for both years' returns.  However, you may want to actually file the 2020 return before mailing your 2019 return.  

 

If your 2020 return is processed and you receive your refund, then you would have the funds available to send your 2019 balance due along with the tax return.  It is almost a certainty that the IRS is still behind with processing mailed returns, so actually filing the 2020 first could be an advantage.  

 

If carryover items had been involved, filing the 2019 first would have been more important.

 

@Emc1122

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Emc1122
Level 2

Filing back taxes

Thank you ! You have Been so very helpful !! Greatly appreciated 😊

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