What is a back tax form?

Back Tax Forms

Whenever you are ready to file your back taxes, you have two options:

  • Obtain directly from the IRS
  • Develop a substitute form
IRS. The IRS usually carries tax forms for prior tax years. You can obtain them by ordering online, downloading them from the IRS website, or calling the IRS toll-free to order them. You will be calling 1-800-829-1040 to request your back tax forms.

Substitute tax forms. The IRS has a Substitute Forms Unit that accepts IRS tax forms that you develop. However, there are guidelines that must be met. For instance, the substitute tax form you develop must:

  • Be on white, unlined paper
  • Conform to the physical layout of the applicable IRS form. (Have the same number of pages, i.e.)
  • Wording should match the official IRS form as closely as possible
  • All perjury statements must be worded verbatim as the original IRS form.
  • Prior approval is needed unless the only change is the preprinted year.
  • The substitute form you develop must not hinder the IRS tax process.
You need to know that the following tax forms are not allowed by the Substitute Forms Unit. You will need the actual tax form where applicable, in other words.

Wager earner documents: W-2, W-2c, W-3, and W-3c (see Publication 1141 and 1223 for information on these forms).

Income reporting documents: 1099 series, W-2G (gambling winnings), 1096, 1098 series, 5498 series and 1042-S (Publication 1179 provides more information on this area)

State tax forms. Period.

Federal Tax Deposit (FTD) coupons

Forms 1040-ES (OCR) and 1041-ES (OCR), which may not be reproduced.

Forms 5500, 5500-EZ, and associated schedules (see the Department of Labor website ( for information on these forms).

Requests for information or documentation you received from the IRS.

Submitting. You can send your substitute tax form to the Substitute Forms Program via email. The email address is In the subject line, be sure to put “PDS Submissions”. Your documents must be in pdf format.

Here are some more guidelines for sending email substitute forms to the IRS:

  • Do not send individual files for each of your substitute forms. You need to send one attached pdf file containing all of the forms you wish to submit.
  • The process of emailing your substitute tax forms will not quicken the review or approval process. The files are dealt with in the order they are received, along with any mailed-in submissions.
  • Of course, the smaller your submission, the quicker the processing time.
  • Be sure to optimize your pdf file prior to submitting.
  • Largest attachment is 2.5 megabytes.
  • Zip files are acceptable.
In addition to submitting forms via email, you may continue to send your submissions to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Substitute Forms Program
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 6406
Washington, DC 20224

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