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I received an incorrect tax form. What do I do?

What happens when you receive a tax form that was sent in error? I usually see W-2’s sent by an employer but I have also seen 1099’s sent to taxpayers who should not have received one.

What can you do? The first response is usually to call the entity that sent you the form. They should acknowledge the mistake and send out a corrected form. I always recommend send something in writing even if they are cooperative on the phone. It will preserve your record of contact. If they fail to cooperate, send a letter explaining why they were wrong and you demand they correct the error within a reasonable time such as 2-3 weeks. I would recommend help from a tax professional because when I send a letter on behalf of a client I also include the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code for why they must accurately report. You may have to fill out a substitute form and send it in such as an SS-8 for wages after you get no response.

How do you file with the IRS when they refuse to change the form? I have my client paper file with a letter of explanation as to why the IRS should disregard the original form. I include a copy of the letter I sent requesting the change take place. In many cases you proactively avoid an audit.

There are some extreme cases where either there was extreme negligence in sending the form or fraud. In that case you should also preserve a record in case you need to sue for costs related to fighting an audit or additional penalties and interest.

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