Federal Tax Forms Overview

January 17, 2010

January is the time of year when you begin receiving vital federal tax forms in the mail. You’re probably familiar with the tax forms you receive documenting your income; the forms vary depending on if you are self-employed, employed as a private contractor or sub-contractor, or if you work directly with one specific employer. Today we’ll take a look at these and some of the other common tax forms that will show up in your mailbox soon.

Tax Form Overview

This month is when you need to start gathering tax forms from your bank, employer, mortgage lender, and any charitable or retirement funds you contributed to in the previous year. Many educational and financial institutes now provide tax forms online in a downloadable format. Whether you file online, use an accounting tax professional, or do them on your own with tax software, there are some basic tax forms you’ll need to know the difference between to properly prepare your tax return. A majority of these tax forms are to be mailed out to you by January 31st.

W-2 Form – This is the most widely used tax form, sent out by employers. The w-2 form contains necessary tax documentation such as your wages for the previous year, commissions, contributions to retirement and Roth accounts, plus other vital tax information.

1099-R Form – This form is used for profit-sharing plans, IRAs, annuities, pensions, and retirement plans. The organization for these accounts will be sending out these forms which report distributions and contributions made within the previous year. It may be required that a copy of this form be attached to your regular tax return.

1099-S Form – This form is for those working as sub-contractors or independent contractors, coming from those who paid your salary or wages. Because you are considered self-employed, rather than employed by one specific employer, you are responsible for taxes that were not automatically withheld.

1099-INT & 1099-DIV Forms – These forms come from financial institutions where you have an account which pays taxable capital gains, losses, or dividends.

1099-SSA Form – If you were a recipient of social security income in the previous year, you will receive this form from the Federal Government.

1098-T Form – This form is for married couples where either spouse took accredited college or continuing education courses from a university or community college. This document reports the amount of tuition paid.

1098-E Form – If you are itemizing deductions and paid any student loans in the previous year, that educational institute will mail this form to you.

1098 Form – This form is for home owners and your mortgage lender will mail this to you, reporting any mortgage interest you paid the year prior. If you are not itemizing deductions, you will not need this form.

1048-S Form – If you were a scholarship or grant recipient, you will be receiving this tax form from that former educational institute.

Be aware of the important fact that a number of these federal tax return forms are only to be used by those who are reporting itemized deductions for the previous year. If you have not received all your necessary tax documents by the middle of February, you may need to contact those particular establishments. They may be unaware that your information was either not sent or not received. Also note that not all Federal Tax Return forms are mentioned in this article, so be sure to contact your local Internal Revenue Service office or visit their website – IRS.gov – with any relevant tax return questions.


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Debbie Dragon is a full-time writer who has been covering personal finance online for almost 9 years.

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