Tax Checklist: See the 5 IRS Tax Forms You’ll Need to Get Your Refund

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Tax season is here, and if you’re looking forward to a big refund, you probably want to get your return filed as early as possible. Thanks to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there have been changes and updates so be sure you have everything in order before doing your taxes. Here are the most common tax forms you’ll need to file your return and get that tax refund.

Do You Have Form 1040?

If you have a simple return and are used to filling out Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040-A, you might be surprised to find that you now need to file Form 1040. All three IRS forms have been consolidated into the Form 1040. But don’t be alarmed — the new Form 1040 is shorter and easier to use. Those with more complex returns will add additional schedules as needed.

Find Out: How to File Taxes Early — and Get Your Return Faster

Do You Have Your W-2?

Your employer should’ve provided you with a W-2 form by the end of January. This tax form tells you how much money you made last year, and how much was withheld for federal and state taxes, Social Security and Medicare. You’ll need all these numbers for your tax preparation.

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Should You Have 1099 Forms?

If you received income from somewhere else besides your employer, you’ll get a 1099 form. These types of tax forms can be issued by your bank or broker for interest or dividends you earned, from Social Security or your IRA custodian for retirement income you received, for gains from stock or real estate sales or for money distributed from a health savings account. Self-employed workers will use the 1099-MISC form.

Stay Safe: How To Protect Your Tax Refund From Being Stolen

Should You Have 1098 Forms?

If you paid interest on a mortgage or on a student loan, paid college tuition or donated a vehicle, you should get a 1098 form. Your mortgage lender will send a 1098 so you can deduct the interest paid on your mortgage or home equity loan. If you paid student loan interest, you’ll get a 1098-E, and if you paid tuition you’ll get a 1098-T so you might qualify for education credits.

Related: New Homeowners, Here’s What You Need to Know for Your Taxes

Where Is Your Tax Return From Last Year?

Having last year’s tax return handy will help you file this year. It’s common to have the same kinds of deductions each year, so if you can see what you did last year it might help speed the process. However, keep in mind that the standard deductions nearly doubled in 2018.

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Other Tax Forms and Records

It’s a good idea to have access to your bank and credit card statements for the year, because you might be able to deduct some of the items you purchased. If you needed other, extra forms last year, you might need those forms again.

Tax time is never fun, but being prepared by having a tax documents checklist will make that task go more quickly, so you can get that refund sooner.

Click through to read more about the guide to finding out when you can expect your tax refund.

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Last update: Apr. 15, 2021

About the Author

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC,, and more.

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