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Last Updated: 1/24/2019

Missing Returns and Commissioner Filed Returns

As a part of the department’s mission, we contact individuals we believe are required to file a Minnesota return (Form M1, Individual Income Tax) when we do not receive one.

If you have a missing return, we may send you a reminder letter (Request for Missing Income Tax Return). In some cases, we may file a return for you ("Commissioner Filed Return") and send you a bill.

Why did I receive a Request for Missing Income Tax Return letter?

We believe you met the filing requirements for that year, but we have no record of you filing a return. You must either file a return or explain why you were not required to file that year.

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

You are required to file a Minnesota return if your income meets the minimum filing requirement. For more information, see Who Must File a Minnesota Individual Income Tax Return or any of the following fact sheets:

How do I file a missing return?

You must file a missing return on paper and send it to the address listed on the Request for Missing Income Tax Return letter. Otherwise, you may file the return 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. Otherwise, request a wage and income transcript from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This shows all income your employers and payers reported to the IRS. You can request this information from the IRS online or by mail.

What if I don’t file a missing return?

We may file a "Commissioner Filed Return" (CFR) and calculate your taxes using the information available to us. You must still file your own return and pay any tax due or you could be subject to criminal penalties.

When we file a CFR, it may not include all the exemptions, deductions, withholding, and credits you’re entitled to claim. Generally, your tax return will be more accurate if you prepare your own.

For more information, see Minnesota Rules, part 8160.0620 (Returns Made By Commissioner), and Minnesota Statutes, section 289A.63 (Criminal Penalties).

What do I need to do if I receive a CFR?

You must do one of the following by the due date on the letter to avoid collection action:

  • File your own Minnesota return to replace the 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. However, you must still file your own return if you have a Minnesota filing requirement.

Can I appeal the CFR?

If you believe we filed the CFR in error, please contact us. If your concerns are not resolved, you may appeal to the Minnesota Tax Court within 60 days of the Notice Date on the CFR (found on the first page).

For more information about appealing to tax court, go to the Minnesota Tax Court website or contact them directly:

Mail: Minnesota Tax Court
         Minnesota Judicial Center, Suite 245
         25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

         St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone: 651-539-3260
Fax: 651-297-8737

Why am I being charged penalties and interest?

We assess penalties and interest whenever you’re late filing a return or paying tax. For details, see Penalties and Interest for Individual Income Tax.

If we file a CFR or send you an assessment order, we’ll add the appropriate penalties and interest to what you owe.

What if I am due a refund on the return I filed to replace the 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. You must file a return even if you missed the 3½-year deadline but still have a Minnesota filing requirement. For more information, see Minnesota Statute 289A.40, subdivision 1.