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Income Tax Forms: Learn About W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms & Mor

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Tax Forms 101: Which Income Tax Forms Do You Need?

Understand the difference between W-2 forms and 1099 forms before filing your taxes

If you live or work in America, you probably know that tax day is April 15—the day all your federal tax forms are due. Before you can file your federal tax return, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct income tax forms on hand. The most common basic income tax forms most people need are W-2 forms and 1099 forms.

W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms

W-2 form

If you receive a net paycheck from your employer with tax withholdings already taken out, use W-2 forms to complete your taxes. Employers are required to mail W-2 forms to employees by January 31. If you’ve had more than one job in the past year, you’ll need to collect W-2 forms from each employer. If you’re an independent contractor, you’ll need to use 1099 forms. Three copies of 1099 forms need to be filled out by the employer or payer: one for themselves, one for the payee and one for the IRS. Employers need to submit 1099 forms to the IRS by the end of February. Just like W-2 forms, copies of 1099 forms must be sent to payees, or contractors, by the end of January. If your income totals less than $600, however, you do not need to file 1099 forms.

1099 forms are also used to record other income sources. These might include tips, scholarships or dividends. Typically 1099 forms are used to record income that has not yet been taxed.

W-2 forms and 1099 forms are submitted with your federal tax return form. You’ll still need to fill out all the paperwork on the individual forms. Simply attach the W-2 forms and 1099 forms with your tax return.

1040 forms

Most people need a 1040 form to file federal taxes. The most common types of 1040 forms are the 1040EZ and 1040 short forms.

1040EZ form

For most Americans, the 1040EZ is the simplest form for federal tax filing. Some key factors that need to be true in order to qualify to use this tax form include:

- You and your spouse are under 65

- Your total income is less than $100,000

- Your interest income is less than $1,500

- Your income is solely from wages, interest, unemployment compensation and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends

- You are single or married filing jointly

1040A (short form)

The 1040A, also called the 1040 short form is another commonly used tax form. Unlike the 1040EZ, this form allows you to claim adjustments to income. Some key factors that need to be true in order to qualify to use this tax form include:

- Your total income is under $100,000

- You have income from wages, interest, dividends, capital gain distributions, IRA or pension distributions, unemployment compensation or Social Security benefits

Some of the income adjustments this 1040 tax form allows you to claim are:

- Penalty for early withdrawal of savings

- IRA contributions

- Student loan interest

- Jury duty pay given to your employer

Buy the tax forms you need

Keep in mind that this is just an overview of the basic tax forms most commonly used by Americans. You may also need to file additional tax forms for things like large gifts or interest from foreign bank accounts. When you’re ready to file, visit the IRS website and simply print the forms you need.

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