Realizing that you’re missing tax documents you need to file is not a good feeling, since the IRS requires certain documentation to be filed along with returns. If you fail to attach the required documents, your return may not be considered filed. The IRS also charges penalties for incomplete filing. A recent article on the OPEN Forum addressed what you can do if you’re missing essential documents.

Get Replacements

  • If you misplaced a 1099 from a client and you need it because you’re unsure how much the client paid you, you can call the client and request a copy. 
  • If you’re missing a 1099 issued by your bank for interest earned, you can call the bank and ask them to send a duplicate. Some banks even have 1099s available on their websites, so log in and see if yours is available in your online account.
  • You can request duplicates for K-1 returns issued by partnerships.
  • If you need your prior year’s return in order to complete the current year’s return, you can always get a copy from the IRS. There’s a new tool on called Get Transcript that allows for instant downloading and printing of prior return transcripts.
  • If you’re missing supporting documentation such as receipts, the IRS will often accept a bank account statement or credit card statement describing the transaction. Banks and credit card companies will usually issue copies of past statements.

Plan for Next Time

You may want to consider scanning and digitizing paper receipts, and backing up your files and documents using a cloud-based solution. That way you’ll have everything in one place, and if your computer experiences a problem, you’ll have a duplicate of your data.


In the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster that so destroys records that you’re not sure even what you’re missing, the IRS is usually understanding and will accept estimates based on past history and bank records. Clear, timely communication with the IRS will help you if you’re dealing with something significant that’s out of your control.