How to Find and File Your Federal Tax Forms

If bureaucracies are good at anything, it ’ randomness creating paperwork, and the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) is the king of all bureaucracies, specially when it comes to tax forms. Most paperwork needed for filing your federal tax return can be completed and submitted electronically, but you ’ ll motivation to acquire some forms, on newspaper or via the web, to get the problem done. We ’ ll explain how to find and obtain the forms you need, how much the IRS updates its forms, and the options for filing your tax forms online .

For the 2021 tax year, the U.S. tax season began on Monday, January 24, 2022, which is when the IRS begins accepting and march 2021 returns .

Key Takeaways

  • There are four ways to find tax forms on the IRS website.
  • Downloading an online form and saving it to your hard drive is the best way to avoid losing your entries if your browser crashes or you accidentally close it.
  • Learn the safety measures to prevent identity theft if you file online, as most now do.
  • You may be able to get free software that will help you fill out the forms and file electronically.
  • Filing early reduces the risk of identity theft.
  • Employers, financial institutions, and others have deadlines by which they need to mail your tax forms or make them available electronically.

How to Find Tax Forms on the IRS Website

Finding tax forms on the IRS web site is easily. You can go about it in one of four ways :

choice 1

  1. Go to IRS.gov.
  2. Mouse over “Forms and Instructions” in the horizontal menu bar and select a form to download.

choice 2

  1. Go to IRS.gov.
  2. Type the name of the form you need into the search bar on the right side of the horizontal menu bar to display it.

choice 3

  1. Open any search engine.
  2. In the search bar, type the name of the form you’re looking for, then “site:irs.gov.” For example, if you’re looking for form 1040, your search string would be “2021 form 1040 site:irs.gov.”

Any of these options will ensure you get a lawful tax imprint directly from the IRS web site. You can besides complete the necessary tax forms on your own or use tax homework software .

note : Tax homework software already has all of the forms you need, sol if you ‘re using one of them, do n’t bother downloading the forms in progress .

2021 tax returns will be due April 18, 2022, which is late due to the Emancipation Day vacation in the District of Columbia on April 15th. For those know in Maine or Massachusetts, the deadline to file is April 19, 2022, due to the Patriots ‘ Day vacation in those states.

How Often the IRS Changes Its tax Forms

The IRS has to update many of its forms annually. even if the form ’ randomness capacity doesn ’ thyroxine change, the form needs to express the current year so taxpayers can be convinced they ’ rhenium filing the correct paperwork and calculating the right come of tax ascribable. The IRS updates its forms because of new laws or guidance, new addresses or phone numbers, or the indigence to make a discipline or clarification .

A big rationality for tax form changes is new legislation, such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This legislation required the IRS to create new 1040 forms and new schedules. fringy tax rates, standard deductions, enumerate deductions, and more changed under the police. Another major nibble of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, necessitated changes to tax forms because of the subsidies, penalties, and new taxes the law mandated .

Completing Online Tax Forms

In the tax year 2018, the government changed Form 1040 and the supplementary forms many taxpayers file along with it. rather of forms 1040, 1040-A, and 1040-EZ, there ’ second form 1040 for most filers, plus a different shape you can choose to file if you ‘re a senior : kind 1040-SR .

Taxpayers who take the standard tax write-off and have childlike returns don ’ t need to file any other forms .

The IRS provides a fillable PDF of Form 1040 on-line ampere well as some common schedules and forms. You can type in your information and then print the form, but a safer option is to download it first, then save it to your hard drive as you fill it out so you don ’ thymine lose your entries if your browser crashes or you unintentionally close it. After filling out and printing the mannequin, you ‘ll sign it, attach copies of any compulsory forms ( W-2 being the most common ), and chain mail it in .

This work is square and cheap ; you ’ ll need to pay for postage, preferably a method acting you can track to prove you submitted your return on time. The IRS says it will process your paper revert within six to eight weeks when submitted by mail. If you ’ re ascribable a refund, it normally takes about three weeks to receive it, although it can be sooner with direct deposition .

People who need to report data not included on form 1040 ( or 1040-SR ) will need to submit extra schedules. These might include one or more of the follow :

For a complete list, see “ Schedules for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR. ” You can fill out these schedules merely as we described above for form 1040 .

Filing Your tax Forms electronically

April 15 used to be the worst day of the year to visit the mail office. Mind-numbing queues formed as everyone waited in note to get the envelopes containing their tax forms postmarked—proof they were mailed in the nick of time. Some people filled out special labels and paid a few excess bucks to get a chase number and proof of rescue .

today, the IRS and the tax software companies have made electronic file, besides called “ e-file, ” an attractive alternative. You never have to leave home to do it .

Is Filing electronically Safe ?

The solicitation of electronic file is obvious, but is it condom ? Your tax file contains some of the most sensible data about you : where you live, how much you earn, how many dependents you have, your Social Security phone number, how high your checkup expenses were, and how much you gained or lost from selling investments .

Can you trust the tax software companies and the government to have employed best-in-class security system to protect your data both as it ’ sulfur being transmitted and while it ’ second being stored ? If you use on-line tax software, your information is besides being stored in the cloud, creating another distributor point of vulnerability .

For this reason, some people prefer to purchase downloadable software so their data is stored only on their own calculator. That way, they are vulnerable to one less data rupture possibility .

In this earned run average of data breaches and identity larceny, security and privacy questions are authoritative to ask. The board below shows what security features online tax services provide as of January 2022 for the 2021 tax revert season. note that the absence of a have in the table doesn ’ t inevitably mean the software supplier doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have it, fair that the data wasn ’ metric ton available on the company ’ s data security page. besides, while each service describes its encoding practices differently, all appear to be using appropriate methods .

Security and Fraud Prevention Features in Popular Tax Preparation Software, January 2022
Software Brand Multifactor Authentication Touch ID Encryption Login and Device Activity Account Change Email Notifications Physical Data Security External Audits and Risk Assessments
TurboTax yes yes SSL encryption that exceeds IRS standards yes yes not advertised not advertised
H&R Block yes not advertised data is bank-level encrypted when transferred from your computer to H&R Block and from H&R Block to the IRS not advertised not advertised data centers, networks, and servers are physically secured yes
TaxAct yes not advertised industry-standard SSL protocol yes not advertised not advertised not advertised

Sources : Turbo Tax, H & R Block, and TaxAct .

even with industry-best security practices, the truth, as H & R Block acknowledges in its privacy policy, is that “ no method of transmission over the internet, or method acting of electronic memory, is 100 % secure. therefore, we can not guarantee [ your tax data ’ mho ] absolute security. ”

Electronic Pitfalls to Avoid

If you do file your tax forms electronically, don ’ triiodothyronine complete them on a populace computer, and don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate transmit your retort over public WiFi .

Use a personal calculator with antivirus and firewall software and a secure, password-protected private WiFi network, such as your home or work network. Don ’ thyroxine transmit your tax returns over an unguaranteed chocolate shop, airplane, or library network .

Paper Returns Have Vulnerabilities, Too

It ’ second besides important to consider how dependable it is to submit your tax reelect by mail. Paper returns can be lost or stolen. They ’ re besides more susceptible to error. unfortunately, your private information is vulnerable no matter how you submit your return .

certain forms can ’ thymine be e-filed no topic how you complete them. however, most people won ’ t need to file these forms. The most common circumstance when you might have to submit a paper return is if you need to file an amended return, although it should be noted tax years 2019 and 2020 can be submitted electronically under sealed conditions .

Besides the possible security system risks—which may be outweighed by features such as appliance and receiving your refund faster—are there any other cons of filing your tax forms electronically ?

Tax-Form file Fees

You can file your 2021 federal tax restitution for free if your income for the year 2021 was $ 73,000 or less. The IRS makes available a choice of tax software to use, including two Spanish-language programs, from many of the major publishers. You may have to pay a modest fee to file your state recurrence .

If your income is above that floor, the tax formulation software you use will charge you to complete and file your state and union returns. The IRS and state governments do not charge you a fee to e-file your tax return key. The fee comes from the tax homework company .

similarly, if you hire a professional tax preparer, they may pass on to you any e-file fees charged by the professional tax software used .

If you use the IRS ’ s Free File fillable forms, you may be able to file electronically, or you may have to print and mail your return. It depends on which forms you are submitting, which supporting information you have to add to your forms, and which documents you ’ re required to submit along with your forms .

No matter what preparation method acting you use, the chief cost associated with completing your tax returns ( besides your time ) will be the tip to use the cooking software, not the e-filing itself .

Should You File early ?

many american taxpayers wait until the April 15 deadline to complete and file their taxes. however, if procrastination stresses you out—or if you ‘re expecting a refund and you want it vitamin a soon as possible—you can file your 2021 refund angstrom early as Jan. 24, 2022 .

Another reason to file early is to reduce the gamble of person stealing your identity to file a faithlessly hark back using your Social Security Number and claim a deceitful refund .

Where to Get Copies of Tax Forms Due to You

Before you can file, you ’ ll need tax forms from the fiscal institutions with which you have accounts. They should either arrive in the mail, or you ‘ll receive information on how to access them online. These forms report how much interest you ’ ve earned on high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit, how much money you made or lost from selling investments, and the measure of any distributions you ’ ve taken from retirement accounts .

You ’ ll besides need tax forms documenting your gain income and the taxes you ’ ve already paid. The most coarse of these is Form W-2 ; employees receive it from their employers. Freelancers and mugwump contractors should receive Form 1099-MISC from each customer who has paid them $ 600 or more ( the IRS calls this “ non-employee compensation ” ). You might besides receive a 1099-MISC for certain other types of income, such as trophy money .

In summation, you may receive forms documenting any interest you ’ ve paid on a scholar loan or mortgage. This concern may be tax-deductible, depending on your circumstances .

traditionally, fiscal institutions, employers, and clients mailed paper copies of these forms to you. today, you may need to retrieve them yourself by logging into your report on-line. sometimes this service is optional, but other times it will be the alone way you can get the forms you need .

Deadlines for Making Tax Forms Available to You

The IRS has established deadlines by which employers and fiscal institutions must mail you these forms or make them available electronically. here are the deadlines for when you ’ re supposed to receive some of the most park forms people need to file their 2021 tax returns .

  • W-2, Wage and Tax Statement – Feb. 1
  • 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement – Feb. 1
  • 1098-E, Student Loan Interest Statement – Feb. 1
  • 1098-T, Tuition Statement – Feb. 1
  • 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions – Feb. 1
  • 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt – Feb. 1
  • 1099-G, Certain Government Payments (e.g., state tax refunds, unemployment compensation) – Feb. 1
  • 1099-DIV, Dividends and Distributions – Feb. 1
  • 1099-INT, Interest Income – Feb. 1
  • 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income – Feb. 1
  • 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc. – Feb. 1
  • 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions – Feb. 1
  • Schedule K-1, Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc. – March 15

What to Do About Missing tax Forms

If you don ’ metric ton receive one or more of the forms you need, you ’ re not absolved of reporting that information on your tax revert. here ’ s how to handle this position .

  1. Search your inbox. You might have received an email notification that a form was ready in your online account. A link to a secure portal to retrieve your form may have been emailed to you. Or you might have misplaced an envelope you got in the mail.
  2. Log into your online account. See if the form is available there. From January through April, most sites prominently display information about where to find your tax forms after logging into your account. Banking, investment, and loan interest forms are usually available online from major financial institutions.
  3. Contact the issuer. Email or call your financial institution, client, or other issuer to ask about the status of your missing form and the method used to send it to you. Ask for a replacement copy to be sent to you.
  4. File an extension. If you still don’t have all the forms you need by April 15, you can file for an extension. However, if you owe taxes, you must still pay what you owe by April 15 to avoid penalties, so make your best estimate. The extension only applies to your tax paperwork—your form 1040 and any others you’re required to submit.

If you file a newspaper retort by mail, you ’ ll need to include copies of the forms issuers have sent you if they show taxes withheld. If you file electronically, you won ’ metric ton have to .

The Bottom Line

Acquiring, organizing, and completing all the forms you need to prepare your tax return can be excruciating for all but the most enthusiastic super-doers. But unless you ’ re among those who don ’ t have to file a tax fall, it ’ south something you must do if you don ’ thymine want to risk incurring penalties for failure to file. sol set aside a few hours, put a sufficient measure of your favorite bite within arm ’ randomness strive, and get it over with .

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