It’s getting to be that time of year again—tax time. And although it’s (probably) no one’s favorite holiday to celebrate, Tax Day, like any other annual event, does require some preparation.
But what happens if you don’t have all your tax information ready to go for April? (Update: The IRS has extended the filing deadline to May 17.) While keeping track of everything can be a headache, the good news, most of your tax information is probably recoverable, even if it doesn’t show up on time. Here’s what to do.
What Paperwork Do You Need to Keep for Taxes?
There are many different types of IRS forms that contain the information necessary to file a tax return. Which specific forms you’ll need will vary depending on your personal financial and demographic circumstances.
Employment and Income
For example, if you’re an employee working to earn wages at a company, your employer will need to supply a W-2 form , which shows both your income and the amount of money that has already been withheld for taxes. If, on the other hand, you’re an independent contractor, you’ll receive a different form—the 1099 , which reports self-employment income as well other types of income like interest and dividends earned on investments. Which, yes, means you might get a 1099 even if you’re an employee if you also have an investment account. There’s also such a thing as an SA-1099 , which shows how much has been received in Social Security benefits over the course of the year.
Deductions and Healthcare
Other common forms include the 1098 , which actually occurs in seven different variations and lists certain types of expenses that may be tax deductible, such as mortgage interest or student loan payments, and the 1095, which also occurs several variations and includes information pertaining to healthcare coverage. You may get a 1095-A if you have a healthcare plan off the Marketplace, a 1095-B if you have minimal essential coverage (i.e. Medicare or Medicaid), or 1095-C if you receive employer-provided health insurance.
What Do You Do if You Don’t Get Your Tax Forms?
First things first: make sure you know whether or not the form is actually late. Generally speaking, most IRS forms should be issued no later than January 31, which means you should expect to see the paper forms in your physical mailbox by mid-February. These days, though, many issuers use digital copies of these forms to make delivery quicker and easier.
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t need to start worrying about your tax forms being late until Valentine’s Day. If the deluge of heart-shaped candy boxes has come and gone, though, there are steps you can take to retrieve your information.
What if You Don’t Get Your W-2?
The first step to take, if you don’t get your W-2, is to contact your employer. It’s likely the HR or accounting department that takes care of tax documentation, so give them a ring (or ping them on Slack, or whatever). You might also want to take a second look at your email inbox, as many employers do offer digital access to these forms, and you may have overlooked it in the slush pile.
If you still aren’t able to resolve the problem, you can turn to the IRS. Call 800-829-1040, the IRS’ toll-free service, with the following information:
• Your name, contact information and Social Security number
• Your employer’s name and contact information
• The dates you worked for your employer
• An estimate of how much you earned and how much was withheld from your income in federal taxes—your paystubs might help with this part
You may be asked to file Form 4852 , which serves as a substitute to form W-2, if the W-2 can’t be located.
What if You Don’t Get Your 1099?
Again, if you’re due to receive a 1099 from an “employer” for independent contracting wages, the first step is to reach out to the individual or entity directly. If you aren’t sure where the 1099 reporting your investment income is, try logging onto your online brokerage account and clicking around. Digital forms are often offered directly to account-holders online.
The good news is, you aren’t technically required to attach your 1099s to your tax return unless taxes were withheld from the payments reported on them. So if you have another record of that income—such as year-end account statements, in the case of investments—you may be able to file your taxes with that information. (That said, it may be worth double-checking your paperwork with a tax professional.)
What if You Don’t Get Your 1095?
If you don’t have your 1095, you can reach out to the source it should have come from to figure out where it is. For the 1095-A, log into your Health Insurance Marketplace account and look for the digital version of the form there; if you are expecting a 1095-B or 1095-C, you can reach out to your Medicare/Medicaid office or employer.
That said, this is another form that you might not have to include on your tax return at all. According to the IRS, you should only wait to file if you’re missing form 1095-A; the other two types, 1095-B and 1095-C, are not required.
What if You Don’t Get Your 1098?
This is another tax document that’s not formally required by the IRS—but it does contain information you probably want to include on your return, since it could translate to a tax deduction.
If you haven’t received your 1098 in the mail, one first step is to log into the account you have with the bank or lender that issued the mortgage or student loan. Again, digital tax documents are often offered directly to borrowers through the online portal. If you can’t find the documents yourself, call the lender’s customer service line. You might also be able to find the necessary numbers on your year-end statement.
If You Just Don’t Have Your Stuff Together On Time
If all else fails and you’re simply feeling crunched for time, you can always file for an extension with the IRS, which involves—of course—a form: Form 4868 , to be exact. While filing the form gives you until October 15 to get your paperwork in order, keep in mind that it doesn’t give you an extended timeline on actually paying your taxes. Any money you owe to the government is still due on Tax Day.
Finally, if you use a tax preparer service, whether a human accountant or smart software product, keep in mind that they likely still have last year’s information on file, which may help fill in some gaps. Your professional tax preparer can also answer questions you have about properly filing this year’s return.
Organizing Your Finances The Easy Way
Tax time can be stressful even for the most organized among us, but if your money landscape is already a bit of a mess, finding the right financial products can make a big difference. For example, SoFi Money®, a cash management account, can help keep things nice and neat by offering you a bird’s-eye view of your spending habits. Plus, the Vaults feature can help you save for personalized goals, whether that’s an upcoming home repair or your next big vacation.
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