What Forms Do I Need to File My Taxes?

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Tax time will be here before you know it. But before you sit down at your computer or with your accountant to file your taxes, you need to have all necessary forms organized and ready to go. 

If you have an accountant, he or she should know what forms you need to file; however, it is your responsibility to look for the forms in the mail and bring them when you meet with your accountant. If you use tax software like TurboTax, the process should ask for specific forms. Plus, if you receive an unexpected form after you've filed, then you will have to amend your return, which does cost money. Therefore, it's best to ensure all your information is accurate and complete before you file your taxes.


Below, our rundown of the forms you'll need this tax season. 

W-2 for Each Job

The first form you'll need to file your taxes is a  W-2. This form, which shows the wages you've earned and the taxes you've paid over the last taxable year, will be sent to you by your employer – and they are required to send it. Worth noting: You may need to check to make sure your employers have your current address

If you worked more than one job, you will need a W-2 from each employer. If you have worked as an independent contractor, you will not receive a W-2 since you are responsible for paying your own taxes. (More on that later.)  

1099 Forms

If you received income other than that from your employer over the last taxable year, then you will need to file a 1099 form.

There are several different types of 1099 forms and they will be labeled differently. For example, if you worked as an independent contractor and earned more than $600 last year, you will need to file a 1099. Concurrently, if you earned dividends and/or distributions from your stock portfolio last year, a 1099 (albeit a different type) will also be required. 

You will also need a 1099 if you received government payouts (like unemployment), made a withdrawal from a taxable retirement account, or if you had a debt cancellation. 

It helps to make a list of places that you should receive a 1099 from so that you can cross the forms off as you receive them. If you are not sure, make a master list as you receive them, because the list will likely be similar next year

1098 Forms for Interest Deductions

If you plan on claiming a deduction because of your mortgage interest, you will need form 1098 from your mortgage company. You can also claim any student loan interest that you paid over the year. The company will issue you a 1098-E form. This may come in the same letter as your monthly statement, so be on the lookout for it. You can claim the student loan deduction, even if you do not itemize on your taxes.

Timeline to Receive the Forms

Your employer and these companies are required to mail these reports by the end of January each year, so you should have them all sometime in February. In order to correctly and accurately file your taxes, it's important to ensure that you received all necessary forms. Try making a checklist of all the places you worked, the banks and investment firms you have accounts with, any other other forms you are expecting. Once you receive the necessary forms, it's important to double check them to make sure the amount and other details are correct.

Compare it to your own records or your pay stubs. f there is an error, then the company will need to issue you a new form, which will say 'corrected form' somewhere on the document. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks to receive the corrected form, so you should check each one as soon as it arrives to ensure you are ready come tax time. 

Additional Schedules and Forms

You may also need forms for any tax credits you qualify for. For example, in order to claim the child care tax credit, you need to file Form 2441. You'll also need separate paperwork if you are claiming the energy saving credit. And be sure to check out these tax tips if you are a recent college grad or college student.

Updated by​ Rachel Morgan Cautero