Ask your employer. Don't assume your forms will be in your mailbox. It's not unusual for employers to hand deliver forms W-2 at work. Check to make sure yours isn't sitting in your inbox -- or ask your employer where to look.
Verify your mailing address. If you've moved since the beginning of the year or someone was careless in processing the forms, your forms might have inadvertently been mailed to an old, incomplete or bad address. Verify that the information your employer has on file is correct.
Contact the IRS. If you've checked with your employer, verified your address and still haven't received your forms, you can contact the IRS. But don't do it too soon -- the IRS specifically requests that you wait until Feb. 15 before calling about a missing form. The number to call is 1-800-829-1040. You'll need to have your personal information handy, including your address, phone number, Social Security Number, dates of employment and the name, address and phone number of your employer.
File form 4852. If your employer doesn't respond to the IRS promptly enough for a timely filing of your tax return, you can go ahead and file the form 4852. But before you file, be sure and allow plenty of time after you receive the form 4852 for your employer to respond.
File an amended return, if necessary. If you receive missing or corrected forms from your employer after you've already filed your tax return, and you need to make a correction, you can amend your return using a form 1040X: Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Amended returns can take several weeks to be processed, so give your employer some time to respond to the IRS before you file your return.
While it's true that you should receive most of your tax documents by the Jan. 31 deadline, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule:
Schedule K-1. If you are the beneficiary of a trust or estate during 2010, you will likely receive what's known as a Schedule K-1. Similarly, if you are a member of an LLC taxed as a partnership, a partner in a partnership, or a shareholder in an S corporation taxed as a partnership, you should expect a Schedule K-1. The Schedule K-1 indicates the share of income and expenses attributable to you from the estate, trust, LLC, partnership or S corporations. Schedules K-1 cannot be issued until after the underlying fiduciary or corporate tax return has been completed, so it's not unusual for you to receive those forms after the Jan. 31 deadline, all the way up to April 18. If you think you might receive a Schedule K-1 this year, consider filing an extension.
IRA contributions. One of the easiest ways to reduce your taxes due is to make a contribution to an IRA. You have until April 18, 2011, to make the contribution and use the deduction for the 2010 tax year. Since IRA contributions and rollovers might not even be made until April 18, the forms to report those transactions clearly won't be delivered by Jan. 31. If you're making a contribution prior to filing your tax return, consider filing an extension.
If you don't receive your forms on time, it's not the end of the world. The IRS is aware that these things happen from time to time and that it's not your fault. However, don't make a bad situation worse by doing nothing -- it's to your advantage to be a smart, proactive taxpayer.
The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.
Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.
Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.
Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.
Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.