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What Forms Do I Need to File My Taxes?

Don’t look now, but Tax Day is right around the corner. As you start getting ready to file your federal and perhaps also state income tax returns, here are a few of the tax forms you may need to have on hand.

Overwhelmed by taxes? Get familiar with the essentials in Personal Capital’s free Guide to Filing Your Taxes in 2021.

Form 1040

Also called the U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, this is the basic tax form used by most Americans when preparing their federal tax return. It includes all your basic information such as your name, Social Security number, address, filing status, taxes you’ve paid and information on your income from all sources.

In the past, you could choose to file Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ instead of Form 1040 if your taxes were relatively simple. But starting with the 2018 tax year, these forms have been eliminated in favor of a shorter Form 1040.

There are fewer boxes to fill in on Form 1040 than there were before because many lines from the old form have been moved onto additional schedules. So while your Form 1040 may be shorter, you may end up having to file other IRS forms that you didn’t before.

Are you an investor? Stay prepared for tax season year-round with our free guide 5 Tax Hacks Every Investor Should Know. When you download the guide, you also get access to our free, secure financial dashboard.

Read More: Is Personal Capital Safe?

Forms W-2 and W-2G 

You’ll receive your W-2 form from your employer. It includes the wages you earned and taxable benefits you received last year, along with the amount of tax that was withheld from your wages. Employers are required to send out W-2 form no later than January 31 each year.

Meanwhile, you’ll receive a W-2G form if you had any gambling winnings last year. It will include the amount of your winnings along with how much federal income tax was withheld from them.

Form 1099-NEC and 1099-MISC

The 1099-NEC form includes earnings from freelance or gig work — it’s basically the equivalent of a W-2 form for these kinds of workers. If you earned more than $600 of this kind of income from any one source last year, you should receive a 1099-NEC form from the payor detailing these payments.

In addition, Form 1099-MISC is also used to report several other types of taxable income such as awards, prizes, and rent. If you won cash or prizes on a TV game show, for example, you’d receive this form.

Form 1099-INT

If you earned interest on a savings or money market account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you’ll receive a 1099-INT form reporting the amount of taxable interest you earned. You will add this interest on the appropriate line on your 1040 form.  If you did not earn more than $10 of interest income the bank is no longer required to send you a 1099-INT form.

If you earned more than $1,500 in interest last year, you also must file Schedule B listing the name of each institution that paid you interest and how much interest you earned.

Schedule A

This is the form you’ll use to list all of your itemized deductions. If your itemized deductions total more than the standard deduction (which is $12,400 for singles and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly for tax year 2020), then you should file this form in order to reduce your taxable income. 

There are several different categories of deductible expenses listed on Schedule A, such as medical and dental expenses, taxes you paid, charitable contributions, casualty and theft losses, and home mortgage interest. You don’t have to have deductible expenses in every category to file Schedule A — just skip any categories for which you don’t have expenses.

Schedule 1, Schedule 2 and Schedule 3

Schedule 1 is used to report additional sources of non-wage taxable income that’s not reported on a W-2 form, as well as any adjustments to your income. Additional sources of income may include business income, rental income, tax refunds and alimony.  For all final divorce decrees signed after December 31, 2018, alimony received is no longer considered taxable income and is not deductible for the payor.

Schedule 2 should be attached to Form 1040 if you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). And Schedule 3 is used to claim certain nonrefundable tax credits such as education credits, residential energy credits and the foreign tax credit.

Be sure to consult with a tax professional if you have more questions about what tax forms you may need in 2021.

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Personal Capital compensates Brian E. Leyde  (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. The information and content provided herein is general in nature and is for informational purposes only. Individuals should contact their own professional tax advisors or other professionals to help answer questions about specific situations or needs prior to taking action based on this information. Tax laws and authorities are subject to change, either prospectively or retroactively, and any subsequent change could have a material impact on your situation.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

Brian E. Leyde, CPA, MPAcc, is a tax specialist with Seattle Tax Group. He has worked with individuals and businesses in a variety of industries. A true economist at heart, Brian’s experience spans various CPA firms. He has owned his own CPA firm and has also worked for one of the Big Four accounting firms (KPMG) and a regional firm in the Pacific Northwest (Clark Nuber). He also understands the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, having bought, operated, and sold businesses. He is driven to help his clients reach their business and life goals.
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