The Ultimate Guide to Tax Forms

tax forms

The IRS has hundreds of forms. Each one reports specific types of income, expenses and other financial data. The exact form(s) you will need depends on your job and your situation. Here are some of the most commonly used forms and why you might get one.

What is a W-2?

The W-2 is a form you’ll receive from your employer if you are traditionally employed (not a contractor). The W-2 shows your total wages, salaries, and tips for the year that has just ended. It also shows how much money was withheld from your paycheck throughout the year to pay your tax liability. You should receive your W-2 in January or early February at the latest.

Just got your first W-2? Here’s what it means.

What is a W-4?

The W-4 is a form you filled out when you started your new job as an employee. It tells your employer how much to withhold for taxes. You won’t need this form to file your taxes. It won’t arrive in the mail.

You can make changes to the information on the W-4 if you need to adjust your withholdings. This could happen if you have a change in certain life circumstances, like having a baby, getting a second job, or getting married.

What is a 1040?

This is the form that gets submitted to the IRS when you file your personal federal income tax return. It is used to calculate how much you owe for taxes. If you have had too much withheld for taxes during the year, then the 1040 is used to calculate how much you are owed in your refund.

If you need to file an amended return because you made an error on your previous year tax return you will make your corrections using a 1040X.

What is a W-9?

The W-9 is a form you fill out and provide to your employer or anyone who needs to file an information return on your behalf. The W-9 tells them your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), so they can report things to the IRS – things like income they paid to you, real estate transactions, mortgage interest you paid, or IRA contributions you made.

If you’re self-employed, the information you provide on your W-9 is used by your client(s) to complete any and all Form 1099s you’ll receive.

What is a 1099?

The 1099 is used to report types of income other than wages, salaries, and tips. There are several types of Form 1099.

  • 1099-A: Acquisition of secured property
  • 1099-B: Proceeds from broker exchange transactions
  • 1099-C: Cancellation of debt
  • 1099-DIV: Dividends
  • 1099-G: Government payments
  • 1099-H: Health insurance payments
  • 1099-INT: Interest
  • 1099-K: Merchant card and third-party network payments (Uber & Lyft drivers, for example)
  • 1099-Q: Qualified education programs
  • 1099-R: IRAs, retirement plans, and pensions
  • 1099-S: Real estate income
  • 1099-MISC: Used to report miscellaneous income that does not fall into any of the categories above. Independent contractors and freelancers frequently use this form. It can also be used to report royalties and rental income.

What is a 1098?

You’ll receive one of these from your financial institution if you paid student loan interest or college tuition or if you made mortgage payments. You would also receive one if you donated a vehicle to charity.

What is a 4868?

If you can’t complete and submit your income tax return by the due date (usually April 15th), you can use this form to file an extension. You will still need to file your Form 4868 extension request and pay any taxes you owe on Tax Day, but your return won’t be due for another six months (Oct. 15th).

Need to file an extension? Learn how

What is a state return?

The federal government collects income tax, and so do most states. If yours does, you’ve probably had money withheld from your paycheck for state income tax. This means you’ll need to file a state income tax return in addition to your federal return. The state return is how you’ll report how much you’ve earned and how much you’ve paid for state taxes during the year.

Wyoming, Washington, Texas, South Dakota, Nevada, Florida, and Alaska do not collect individual income tax. You do not have to file a state tax return if you live in one of these states.

What is a tax schedule?

A schedule is an attachment to Form 1040. Some of the most commonly used schedules are:

  • Schedule A: Used for itemizing your deductions
  • Schedule B: Used to report taxable interest or ordinary dividends over $1,500
  • Schedule C: Used to report self-employment income and expenses
  • Schedule SE: Used to calculate self-employment tax

What now?

When you file with TaxSlayer, you enter your income and expense information exactly as it appears on the tax forms you’ve received. We’ll put it where it belongs on your tax return, then the software does the calculations for you. TaxSlayer makes it simple to file – find out for yourself. Got your forms? Start filing now for free.

This article is up to date for tax year 2022 (returns filed in 2023).

This article is intended to provide general information to the public and does not provide personalized tax, investment, legal, or business advice. You should seek the assistance of a professional for advice on taxes, investments, and any other financial, legal, or business matter pertinent to your individual situation.

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