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Substitute for Return (SFR)

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IRS Definition

If you fail to file, the IRS may file a substitute return for you. This return might not give you credit for deductions and exemptions you may be entitled to receive.

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If you don’t file a tax return that you were supposed to, the IRS can file a return for you, called a substitute for return (SFR). The IRS prepares the return based on information it has from your employers, banks, and other payers.

An SFR has a filing status of single or married filing separately. That means you won’t get any exemptions, credits or deductions in your favor. It’s usually best to file your own return even if the IRS has already filed an SFR for you. You can still file your return to replace the SFR, to take advantage of a better filing status and any exemptions or credits you may be entitled to.

The IRS typically reviews these replacement returns more carefully than returns that are filed by the due date.

Learn how to address unfiled tax returns.

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