Hi and welcome to our site!If you were required to file - there is no choice - but to file your tax returns.
What you need - information about your income and deductible expenses.Such documents as W2, 1099 forms you might received in the past.I suggest to start with the most recent tax year and go backward - because it might be easy to obtain most recent documents.If you do not have W2 forms - you might need to contact your employer and ask for copies.If you are not able to contact your employer - you may request your tax account transcript from the IRS which contains information about your wages and other income reported to the IRS. Let me know if that is an issue and you need more details.
I may also help you to estimate your possible tax liability or refund if you have information about your income.
so it is best to just start filing because there is no reported income
There is no "best" way - but starting with most recent years might be easy because chances are you will easy find required information. But - there is no alternative to filing - if you are required to file - that is what you need to do.If you did not have income - there is no need to file. Generally persons who have income below certain level are not required to file.
if I request a tax account transcript from the IRS it would tell me what the IRS has from me to start with, and how far back does that typically go
Yes - that is correct - the tax account transcript has all information about items reported to the IRS.Transcripts are usually available for past six years.The IRS has older information stored in your master file - but that would be harder to get such information.
so is there a cost to the transcript or can I get a free copy online or do I have to go to my local office
There is no fee for transcripts. You need to use the form www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf to obtain your tax account transcript. On the form - check the box 8 for information about W2, 1099, 1098 forms.You have three easy and convenient options for getting copies of your federal tax return information -- tax account transcripts--by phone, by mail, or online.The new online ordering method, Order A Transcript - http://../individuals/article/0,,id=232168,00.html , is available and makes ordering simple. You may also request transcripts by calling _1_800_908_9946_, or order by mail using IRS Form 4506T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).
ok thank you