Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tips: Get your tax paperwork in order

So the federal income-tax filing deadline is getting closer, but you're lacking key information. Where should you go to retrieve it, and what will it cost you? Below find some key pointers on obtaining what you need.

Item/issueHow to get itOther details
W-2 forms showing last year's payIf you haven't received your W-2 by now, contact your employer. If you don't have it by Feb. 16, call the IRS (1-800-829-1040) for help. You'll need your Social Security number, dates of employment and employer's name, address and phone number.The IRS will contact your employer and issue you a Form 4852 (substitute Form W-2) to fill out if you don't receive your W-2 in time to make the tax deadline. But even if you don't receive W-2s or other documents, that's not an acceptable excuse for not filing.
Tax transcriptsThe IRS doesn't charge for transcripts, which are available for the current tax year and three prior years. These summaries come in two forms: Tax-return transcripts show most line items from your return as originally filed, including forms and schedules. Tax-account transcripts show later adjustments made by you or the IRS after you filed.Order at (click on "Order a Transcript") or call 1-800-908-9946. Order through the mail using IRS Form 4506T-EZ. Businesses, partnerships and individuals who need data from other forms or a tax-account transcript must use Form 4506T. On online or phone orders, plan on five to 10 days to receive your tax-return transcript. Allow 30 days for orders requiring Form 4506T or 4506T-EZ.
Forms such as 1099s and 1098s*Contact your bank, brokerage, mutual-fund company or other financial firm to retrieve these tax documents if they haven't arrived.If you have signed up to access online statements, many financial firms will let you download your 1099s and 1098s from their websites.
Capital-gain records showing your basis in an investmentBasis is the amount of your investment on which you don't face taxes. Check your statement or online account to see if your financial firm tracks this, or call the company. Basis reporting becomes mandatory starting in 2011 (for stocks), 2012 (mutual funds) and 2013 (bonds and options).Various entities can help you determine your fee, which can be helpful if your investment was made many years ago or you no longer have an active financial account. One source is Netbasis, a program from NetWorth Services in Phoenix (, 1-888-802-2747), which starts at $19.50 for one transaction.
Tax-filing extensionsIf you can't get your records together, request an automatic extension by filing Form 4868 by April 18, giving you until Oct. 17.With an extension, you still should estimate and pay your 2010 tax bill by April 18. Otherwise, interest and penalties could apply.

by Russ Wiles The Arizona Republic February 7, 2011

Tips: Get your tax paperwork in order

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