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.
Ordinarily, when you sell something for more than what you paid to get it, you have a capital gain; when you sell it for less than what you paid, you have a capital loss. Both can affect your taxes. But if you immediately buy a similar property to replace the one you sold, the tax code calls that a "like-kind exchange," and it lets you delay some or all of the tax effects. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses Form 8824 for like-kind exchanges.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow the families of disabled young people to set aside money for their care in a way that earns special tax benefits. ABLE accounts work much like the so-called 529 accounts that families can use to save money for education; in fact, an ABLE account is really a special kind of 529.
One of the many benefits of working at home is that you can deduct legitimate expenses from your taxes. The downside is that since home office tax deductions are so easily abused, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tends to scrutinize them more closely than other parts of your tax return. However, if you are able to substantiate your home office deductions, you shouldn't be afraid to claim them. IRS Form 8829 helps you determine what you can and cannot claim.
Form 8859 is a tax form that will never be used by the majority of taxpayers. However, if you live in the District of Columbia (D.C.), it could be the key to saving thousands of dollars on your taxes. While many first-time home purchasers in D.C. are entitled to a federal tax credit, Form 8859 calculates the amount of carry-forward credit you can use in future years, not the amount of your initial tax credit.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the power to seize income tax refunds when a taxpayer owes certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or overdue child support. Sometimes, a married couple's joint tax refund will be seized because of a debt for which only one spouse is responsible. When that happens, the other spouse is said to be "injured" and can file Form 8379 to get at least some of the refund.