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Last Updated: 1/11/2016

Missing Returns and Commissioner Filed Returns

As a part of its mission, the Minnesota Department of Revenue contacts individuals we believe are required to file a Minnesota tax return when they haven’t done so (“missing return”).

You must file a Minnesota income tax return if you’re a resident of the state and your income meets the minimum filing requirement for the year (see income tax fact sheet 12, Filing Past Due Returns, for filing requirements for past years). If you’re a part-year resident or nonresident, you have to file a return if your income from Minnesota sources meets the requirement for a single individual under the age of 65 regardless of age or filing status.

If you have a missing return, we may send you a reminder (“Request to File”) letter. In some cases, we may file a return for you (“Commissioner Filed Return”) and send you a bill (“Order of Assessment”).

What if I receive a Request to File letter for a previous year’s tax return?

This means the department believes you met the filing requirements for that year, but we have no record of you filing a return. Follow the instructions that came with the letter. You must either file a return or explain why you weren’t required to file a Minnesota return for that year.

What if I didn’t live in Minnesota, or moved into (or out of) the state during the year?

Part-year and nonresidents are required to file a Minnesota income tax return if your income from Minnesota sources meets the minimum filing requirement for a single individual under the age of 65 regardless of age or filing status (see income tax fact sheet 12, Filing Past Due Returns, for filing requirements for past years). For details, see Part-Year Residents and Nonresidents.

How do I know if I have to file a Minnesota tax return?

If you’re unsure, see Who Must File a Minnesota Individual Income Tax Return, or view one of the following fact sheets:

How do I file a missing return?

You must file a missing return on paper (not electronically), and you must send it to the address listed on the Request to File notice. But otherwise follow the instructions as you would for any other year. If you need forms and instructions, see Prior-Year Forms.

What if I need wage and withholding information to complete my missing return?

Contact your employer(s). If you’re not sure who your employer was for that year, you can request an income transcript from the Internal Revenue Service. This shows all income reported to the IRS by your employers and other payers.

You can request this information from the IRS online.  You may be able to receive the information on the same day you request it.

What if I don’t file the missing return?

Under Minnesota law, the Department of Revenue may issue an order against you, called a Commissioner Filed Return (CFR). We’ll calculate your taxes using the information available to us. A CFR may result in you owing more tax than you legally owe. You must still file your own return and pay any tax due, or you could be subject to criminal penalties.

When the department files a CFR, it may not include all the exemptions, deductions, withholding and credits that you’re entitled to claim. Preparing your own return will result in a more accurate computation of your tax.

For more information, go to:

Minnesota Rules, part 8160.0620 (Returns Made By Commissioner)

Minnesota Statutes, section 289A.63 (Criminal Penalties)

What if I receive a Notice of Commissioner Filed Return (CFR)?

You must respond within 60 days or the department will take collection action against you. To avoid this, respond in one of the following ways by the due date on the letter:

  • File your own Minnesota income tax return to replace the department’s CFR. Include all required schedules and a copy of your federal return.
  • Send us a written explanation of why you’re not required to file or pay Minnesota income tax.
  • Accept our CFR assessment and pay the total amount due, as shown in the letter (tax, penalties and interest).
  • Appeal to the Minnesota Tax Court. For more information or to get appeal forms:

Go to the Minnesota Tax Court website.
Call or visit the Office of the Clerk of District Court in your county.

If you have questions about a CFR, contact the department auditor listed on the letter. Our notice will include contact and mailing information, a payment voucher and return envelope, and information about your appeal rights.

Why am I being charged penalties and interest?

The department assesses penalties and interest whenever you’re late filing a return or paying tax. For details, view Penalties and Interest.

If the department files a CFR for you or sends you an assessment order, we’ll add the appropriate penalties and interest to what you owe. There is an additional “extended delinquency” penalty  if we send you a Request to File letter for a missing tax return, and you don’t file it within 30 days.

What if I am due a refund on the return I filed to replace the Commissioner Filed Return (CFR)?

If you overpaid the amount of tax, penalty and interest due, you may receive a refund. To do so, you must file the return within 3½ years of the original due date, or within 1 year of the date on our CFR letter (“Notice of Commissioner Filed Return”), whichever is later.

Note: We may use part or all of your refund to pay other state or federal taxes you owe, or to pay debts you owe to other public agencies, if they file a claim with the department.

Is there a time limit on claiming a refund?

Yes. Generally you must file your return within 3½ years of the original due date in order to claim a refund under Minnesota law. You must file a return even if you intend to forfeit your refund or you missed the 3½-year deadline. View the statute (M.S. 289A.40, subd. 1).

For more information call 651-205-4316 or 800-657-3759.