Missing Tax Forms Will ‘Definitely' Delay Your Refund, Expert Warns. How to Know Which Ones You Need

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  • If you’re banking on a refund this tax season, the IRS said you should file a complete and accurate return to avoid delays.
  • Before rushing to file, it's important to gather tax documents for activity like your income, deductions and credits.
  • You can review last year's tax return to make a checklist of which forms you may need this season.

If you're banking on a refund this tax season, the IRS has a warning: You should file a complete and accurate return to avoid delays.

While it's been a smoother filing season compared with years past, it's still important to file correctly the first time, experts say. One way to avoid possible issues is by getting organized with the necessary tax forms, known as information returns, sent to the IRS and taxpayers yearly.

"Missing tax documents are definitely going to cause a refund delay," said Sheneya Wilson, a certified public accountant and founder of Fola Financial in New York.

Here's why: If you skip tax forms received by the agency, the IRS systems may flag your return and mail you a notice, she explained.

Whether you're working with a tax professional or filing on your own, here's what to know about your tax forms — and when to expect them.

When you'll receive each tax form

While most tax forms have a Jan. 31 deadline, others aren't due until mid-February or beyond, said certified financial planner John Loyd, owner at The Wealth Planner in Fort Worth, Texas. 

For example, the deadline for 1099-B for capital gains and losses and 1099-DIV for dividends and distributions is Feb. 15. But some investment firms get an extension from the IRS for more time to validate forms and avoid corrections, meaning you may not receive these forms until March, Loyd said. 

If you do need a corrected form, it can slow down your filing process because it takes time for the investment firm to update and reissue your documents, he said.

Regardless of your situation, it's important to have all the necessary forms handy before filing your return, Loyd said. "It's 1,000 times better" to file correctly the first time, he added, noting that IRS notices may take months to resolve.

Make a checklist with last year's return

If you're not sure which tax forms to expect, experts say last year's tax return is a great starting point.

"I go page-by-page with the prior year and current year's [returns]," said Marianela Collado, a CFP and CEO of Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Florida. She is also a CPA. "That's always a good check," she said.

For earnings, some of the common forms include a W-2 for wages, 1099-NEC for contract or gig economy work, 1099-G for unemployment income and 1099-R for retirement plan distributions. 

For 2022, you probably won't receive a 1099-K for payment apps such as Vemno or PayPal unless there were more than 200 payments worth an aggregate above $20,000. If you receive this form by mistake, the IRS said it is working on guidance.

Of course, it's also important to make sure the numbers on your tax return match those on your 1099s because "that's something that could trigger a delay," Collado said.   

As for tax breaks, you may need forms 1098 for mortgage interest, 5498 for individual retirement account deposits, 5498-SA for health savings account contributions, 1098-T for tuition, 1098-E for student loan interest and more.

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