4 Common Tax Forms To Start Watching For in Your Mail

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Although the standard tax filing date doesn’t arrive until at least April 15 every year (April 18 in 2023), as soon as the calendar turns to January, it’s time to start getting your documents in order. In addition to collecting and organizing all of your own records and receipts, you should be expecting a variety of “important tax documents” to start showing up in your mailbox.

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By law, the IRS requires that companies send out these documents by Jan. 31 every year, so you should anticipate receiving them no later than the first week of February. Depending on how complicated your financial life is, you may receive a wide variety of documents. However, the following four categories cover the bulk of documents that most Americans receive.

W-2

The most common tax form that individuals receive is Form W-2. This is a wage and salary statement issued by employers reporting your income, any taxes you paid and any deductions that were withheld from your paychecks.

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For most Americans, particularly those with simple tax returns, this is the most important form they will receive — and perhaps even the only one. You’ll use the information on this form to report your wages and taxes withheld on Form 1040 when you file your taxes. 

1099

There are a number of different types of Form 1099, and many Americans receive multiple types. Form 1099 reports income you may have received that isn’t from your salary or wages. Here are some of the most common types of 1099s:

  • 1099-DIV: reports any dividend income you receive, such as from stocks
  • 1099-INT: reports any interest income you receive, such as from bonds
  • 1099-R: reports and income you receive in the form of a retirement plan distribution
  • 1099-OID: reports income you receive if you buy a bond for less than its redemption value
  • 1099-MISC: reports “miscellaneous” income, such as from royalties, commissions or rents
  • 1099-NEC: reports “non-employee compensation,” also known as self-employment income (formerly reported under 1099-MISC)
  • 1099-B: reports your investment transactions made with a broker

Even if you’re not expecting a 1099, you may receive one. For example, the interest you earn on your savings account, even if it is meager, will be reported to you on Form 1099-INT. Even cash bonuses you may have received for signing up for new bank accounts will usually trigger a Form 1099-INT.

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1098

Form 1098 reports certain payments that you may have made that could be tax-deductible. The most common Form 1098 is the base version, which reports mortgage interest paid. Form 1098 also reports any mortgage interest premiums or points you may have paid during the year.

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As these expenses are typically deductible, they are important for taxpayers to know about. Form 1098 also provides the IRS with other basic information about your mortgage, such as its origination date, your outstanding principal balance and the location of your property.

In addition to the standard Form 1098, there are three other versions of Form 1098 that report different payments:

  • Form 1098-C: reports information about vehicles you donate to charity that may be tax-deductible, such as cars, boats or airplanes
  • Form 1098-E: reports the amount of student loan interest that you paid to a lender
  • Form 1098-T: reports payments you made for qualified tuition and related expenses, including scholarship or grant amounts

All of these forms report information you may be able to use on your tax return to qualify for various deductions or tax credits.

K1

Many Americans will never receive a Form K1, but it deserves mention for a number of reasons. Form K1 reports your share of income from any partnership investments. However, you may also receive one if you’re the beneficiary of a trust or an estate.

It’s important to know if you might be receiving a K1 because you’ll likely receive it much later in the year than you might be expecting. Unlike other common tax forms, which must be issued by Jan. 31 every year, partners don’t have to issue a K1 until the later of March 15 or three months after the end of an entity’s fiscal year.

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As tax filing day is normally April 15, this means that you won’t have much time to incorporate the data from your K1 into your Form 1040. Worse still, if you aren’t aware you’ll be receiving a K1, you might file your taxes in February or March, only to receive a K1 after you’ve already turned in your return. This is why it’s important to note what a K1 is and to be aware if you’ll be receiving one or not.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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