What to do when you're missing a 1099?
February 12, 2017 4:58 PM   Subscribe

College student here who also freelances in deliveries and commercial driving. I'm getting together my tax documents for FY2016 but there's one that I'm missing and don't expect to see.

Around this time last year I was working for an Access-A-Ride service in New York City. (For those who don't know, it's a service that picks up the disabled from their home and transports them within NYC.) Things were going fine, I was driving for them on weekends, but around this time last year the company went bankrupt.

Within the space of a weekend, the garage was closed, all the vehicles were carted away and everyone who works for the A-A-R division of the company was gone. (The parent company still exists as an ambulance service in the Hudson River Valley, but apparently they were separate for business purposes.) They actually owed me one last paycheck, but the union rep told me that the only way to get it is to join the bankruptcy proceedings and wait in line to be paid after the creditors.

My problem now is that I haven't gotten a 1099 for whatever they paid me in 2016 before they went belly-up. It wouldn't be for much, a few thousand at most, but I've already gotten documents from everyone else I freelanced for since then, and I'm not sure what to do about filing. This is complicated by the fact that, while they originally paid me via direct deposit, they switched to checks once the financial troubles started, so my bank records from that time will just say "ATM check deposit" instead of "{EMPLOYER} deposit" so I'll have a tough time separating them from any other freelancing money I got.

The only thing I can think of doing is looking for the check stubs from that time, which maaaaaybe I kept. But even if I find them, what to do then?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You still need to report the income. Behave as if you had received a 1099 and just add it to your MISC income. Companies aren't required to report your income for you, you have to do it for yourself. They send you a copy as a courtesy. If you have a tax preparer/accountant, just tell them to add $xx to your misc income. You only need to report income that was higher than $600 from an individual employer. I say this as a freelancer who has to sort through dozens of employers come tax time, many of whom never bother to send 1099s--I suggest, since it's still pretty early in the year, to go back to January and start recording your income in a spreadsheet going forward so even if you don't get tax forms from these companies, you can still track what your earnings were and don't need to wait to hear from them to file.
posted by therewolf at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2017

Here's what the IRS would like you to do - file for what you were paid and pay taxes on that. I believe that you can do a search for "missing 1099" on the IRS website and get information on what to do in that situation. It's in your best interest to be fair about what you were paid but not claim more than you were paid. Keep in mind that if you were audited, you might owe taxes on what you didn't claim. The tax hit on $3000 in earnings might be 30% (or whatever your tax rate)+accrued interest and late fee(s).
posted by amanda at 5:06 PM on February 12, 2017

You only need to report income that was higher than $600 from an individual employer.

This is a common misconception. You must report all income even if you don't receive a 1099. See here on the IRS Web site.
posted by Jahaza at 6:24 PM on February 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Can you go through your records and from your total freelancing income subtract out what you have 1099s for. That would give you the missing amount. You should report or be prepared for the IRS to find it for you in a year or two. Example: In 2013 we took a couple thousand out of a retirement fund I totally forgot to report. August 2015 I received a notice from both IRS and state notifying me of my error and need to pay asap. No fun.
posted by ChristineSings at 6:27 PM on February 12, 2017

Check with your bank to see if you can view check images online or if there's a way to request them. Even if not, since you have all of your other 1099s, you should be able to add up all of your income for the year and subtract the other jobs, right?
posted by acidic at 8:20 PM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you weren't tracking your freelance income and expenses. (Obviously you should figure out a system for doing that for 2017.) In the meanwhile, you need to figure out how much you got paid.

Go back though the deposit records from that limited period of time when they were paying you by check and do your best to identify them. Most banks will have images to go with deposits (at least ATM deposits) so it shouldn't take to long to check out the likely deposits.

You also need to try to recreate the deductions - since your taxable income may be higher than your net paycheck. You really want to find your old paystubs to help you figure this out.
posted by metahawk at 8:22 PM on February 12, 2017

Just estimate it best you can and add it on to your income. If you ever do get a 1099 from them (every year someone sends me one after I've already filed, of course) then just have your tax preparer file a correction.

The IRS doesn't audit college students over a couple grand. You'll be fine.
posted by bradbane at 10:54 PM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree with checking to see if your bank allows you to view deposited checks--most of the big banks do this now, which will at least allow you to reconstruct your income.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:29 AM on February 13, 2017

Thanks for your help, everyone. Coincidentally, when I was prepared to go to the bank yesterday, the mail was delivered, and my 1099 was actually there! I guess despite the bankruptcy, someone at the main office is keeping track of the paperwork.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:05 PM on February 17, 2017

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