Can I File Taxes on Self Earned Income Without a 1099?

You can’t persuade anyone to issue 1099s, but you must still file.

tax forms image by Chad McDermott from

When you perform work for someone else on a contractual basis, the person you worked for must issue and provide you with a Form 1099 for any amount over $600 as of Sept. 1, 2012. However, if you don’t receive a 1099, you still have to file your tax return. Your own record keeping and due diligence can prevent you from failing to pay enough taxes.

Reasonable Effort

You must make a reasonable effort to get your Form 1099. This means calling the business you contracted with and requesting the form. In most cases, this will solve the problem, but you may find that some businesses don’t get around to issuing the form by the Jan. 31 deadline. The responsibility lies with the business to issue the 1099, not with you, so if the Internal Revenue Service asks any questions, be prepared with a record of your request to the business.

Record Keeping

If you cannot get a 1099 from the business, use your own records of how much you earned to fill out your tax forms. A Form 1099 does not contain any tax withholding amounts, so you should be able to indicate the total amount you were paid by the business you contracted with. The IRS will accept your income claim without the Form 1099, but be prepared to show your own accounting of your income if any questions should arise.


If you don’t receive your Form 1099, you still have to pay your taxes by April 15 of each year. Even if you file for an extension, which automatically gives you until Oct. 15 to file your returns, you must send in a check on April 15 for the amount of tax you think you will owe. If you do not pay your taxes when you file in April and discover you owed money when you file your return on Oct. 15, you will be subject to fines. If you don’t know your exact income because your 1099 is missing, estimate it.


If you file your taxes and pay based on what you think is the correct income amount only to discover when your Form 1099 arrives late that the amount is different, you can fix the problem. File a Form 1040 X, or Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Attach the Form 1099 and recalculate your taxes based on the correct figures.

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About the Author

Kevin Johnston writes for Ameriprise Financial, the Rutgers University MBA Program and Evan Carmichael. He has written about business, marketing, finance, sales and investing for publications such as "The New York Daily News," "Business Age" and "Nation's Business." He is an instructional designer with credits for companies such as ADP, Standard and Poor's and Bank of America.

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