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Filing season forms roundup, part 1: the W-2

Filing season for federal taxes began this week. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million returns by the April 18 filing deadline.

Some early birds have already filed. But if you are still waiting for your W-2 or a 1099 (or multiple 1099s), you are not alone. In this two-part post, we will update you on some of the basics of those key forms.

Let's start with the W-2 form. This is of course the form sent by employers to employees and the IRS to report on the amount of wages paid out in the just-ended calendar year. The form also shows withholding amounts: how much you had withheld in taxes from your pay.

By law, employers normally have until January 31 to get W-2s mailed out. This year, however, January 31 falls on a Sunday, so employers have until the following Monday, February 1, to send them. Your employer may also have given you the option to receive your W-2 electronically.

If you didn't get your W-2, you can ask your employer to provide another one. This is normally not a problem.

In some cases, however, getting a replacement W-2 from your employer is not practical because your employer may have gone out of business or relocated. It is also possible that the W-2 you receive contains what you believe is incorrect information.

In cases such as these, you may need to contact the IRS for assistance. But the IRS does not start responding to such requests until February 14. Not surprisingly, in a tax system replete with forms, there is a form for this. That form is 4598, for Form W-2, 1098 or 1099 Not Received, Incorrect or Lost.

In part two of this post, we will discuss form 1099. With so many people working as independent contractors, this form has arguably become as important as the W-2 to tax compliance.

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