Getting The Jump On April 18

What to do When the Tax Forms Start Arriving

Getting The Jump On April 18
February 11, 2016

Is it tax time already? You may not want to admit it, but tax time starts well before the filing deadline. Your important tax forms start arriving in the mail in January. If you simply let them accumulate in a pile, it will be April before you realize it, and you will be scrambling around, attempting to do your taxes at the last moment. Woe unto you if you realize at the last minute that one of your important tax forms is nowhere to be found.

How many forms should you expect? That depends on your situation, but anything that contributes to your income or makes adjustments to your taxable income will require documentation. Primary forms include:

  • W-2s – Everyone that you have worked for as a direct employee owes you a W-2 form to show all monies paid to you and taxes withheld.
  • 1099s – 1099s cover all income from sources that do not withhold for taxes, such as independent contracting/freelancing position. You should receive a 1099 from every independent contracting job that you performed.

  • 1098s – 1098s cover deductible interest expenses. There are a wide variety of 1098s, but the most common ones cover mortgage interest and tuition/student loan interest.
  • K-1s – K-1 forms are for pass-through income situations such as trust income, LLCs, and S-corporations.
  • 1095s – You will have one new form for this tax year, the 1095 form. A 1095 form is required with your tax return to serve as proof that you have sufficient health-care insurance as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Failure to provide one will result in a penalty.

Take the time to make a checklist of all the forms you should expect to receive. That way you will know to follow up early if you do not receive an expected form on time. If you have moved recently, you will have to be proactive and make sure that all parties that owe you a form have your correct address. They are obligated to send you a form, but not to verify that you have received it.

While you wait for these forms to arrive, start gathering up the other paperwork that you need. Start with a copy of last year's tax form. If you cannot find it, you can order a transcript from the IRS through the "Get Transcript" function on the IRS website and have it mailed to you.

Gather all receipts and paperwork regarding itemized deductions, focusing on the highest income elements first. Medical expenses, mortgage expenses, educational expenses, charitable contributions ... anything that you may want to itemize should have a corresponding receipt.

Are you having trouble organizing or finding the receipts you need? Turn this year's suffering into next year's convenience by setting up a filing system to use throughout the year. A simple organizer that contains all of your receipts divided into specific deduction categories will make life a breeze next January — as long as you have the discipline to put receipts in the proper place as soon as you receive them.

By getting an early jump on your taxes, you avoid the stress of last-minute submissions and have a greater chance of avoiding costly mistakes or late-filing penalties. Do not be one of those poor souls either pulling up to the Post Office or hitting "Send" on their e-filing one minute before the deadline expires. Sit back and observe those poor souls instead, then offer them some friendly advice on how organizing your important tax documents throughout the year made your life so much easier.


Photo ©iStock.com/alexsl

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Carla Truett | 02.11.16 @ 21:02
We filed our taxes a couple days ago. These aricles are great for helping me to remember what I need to prepare. Thanks!
Erin | 02.11.16 @ 21:02
We just got the rest of our needed tax forms and will be filing soon. This is a good list to keep on hand if you have any non-mainstream revenues of money. Thanks for the tips.
gracie | 02.11.16 @ 21:03
Good info to read over I had no idea about the 1095 form that was new this year and would not have looked for it if I hadn't read over the new forms!
Nancy | 02.11.16 @ 21:04
This is great info not just for scrambling around finding things for this year, but do be better prepared next year.
Sarah | 02.11.16 @ 21:05
I got my 1099 and 1095 plus the w2 for hubby. I'm ready to file!
Alec | 02.11.16 @ 21:07
I had all my paperwork together at the start of January and I'm just waiting on a few more pieces to come in the mail. I've been reading over the new requirements and things needed to get prepped and ready to file this year!
Steffanie | 02.11.16 @ 21:13
We are filing our taxes next week so this is a great checklist.
trish | 02.11.16 @ 21:13
We are gathering all of the paperwork as we speak. Still waiting on a few but hope to be ready soon. Will double check with this list before we go
Sara | 02.11.16 @ 21:14
We try to do ours as soon as we get our W2s. However this year we have slacked some. Glad to have this list for when we do them.
brittany.martinez530 | 02.11.16 @ 21:14
I got a head start and am doing mine on monday. Can't wait to get that headache behind me.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.08.16 @ 18:12
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