For many of us, this was the first week we could file our tax returns. The reason? We finally got all those tax statements we need to fill out our Form 1040 and associated schedules.
You know the paper I'm talking about. Your W-2 from your employer is the biggie.
If you're paying a mortgage, your lender will send you a 1098 (or an acceptable substitute) detailing the home loan interest and, if they're escrowed as part of your monthly payment, how much in property taxes you paid last year.
Statements issuers have until Jan. 31 to get them in the mail. This year they got a couple extra days, as last month's final day fell on a Saturday and pushed the mailing deadline to Feb. 2.
But most of the firms that I deal with have been on the ball, so I have a substantial collection, a snapshot of which is above.
Time to check: I must confess, though, to having just stacked all my tax statements in a box. In the next week or so, I'm going to double check my financial and earning records to make sure that what the various payers are telling the IRS matches my data. If it doesn't -- and that's happened before -- I'll let the company know what I have and we'll figure out who's correct.
You want to confirm the forms' information before the end of February. That deadline, which actually is March 2 this year since Feb. 28 falls on a Saturday, is when the issuers of the documents must send official copies to the IRS. If there's a problem, you want it corrected before that happens so that the payer doesn't have to send Uncle Sam a "corrected" version.
I know it's no big deal. Beau coup corrected statements are sent out every year. But I've always wondered if the IRS looked a little more closely at filings where that's happened. That's just my personal irrational tax terror.
So if you've been getting these documents, take some time here soon to make sure you have indeed received all that you need and that they are correct. A good checklist is last year's tax return, specifically Schedule B where you reported interest and investment earnings. If you still had those same holdings for any part of 2008, you probably should get a statement this year. If you haven't, give the company a call.
Don't forget e-statements: Also remember to check your e-mail. If you're like me, you signed up for online notifications of your accounts. That means that you won't get your 1099s in the snail mail.
Instead, you'll get a message that you can download your tax data by signing onto your account at the company's Web site.
Extra time for brokers: If you use a broker, you're probably in for a bit more of a wait. A law enacted in 2008 has provided brokers extra time to get there statements out to clients.
The mailing deadline for 1099-B forms, which detail proceeds from broker and barter exchange transactions, now is Feb. 15. And since this Feb. 15 falls on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 16, is the federal Presidents Day holiday, the deadline this first year of the new law is Feb. 17.
If you get combined interest and dividend information on a brokerage statement, then your broker also has until that Feb. 17 deadline to get all your tax data to you on a combined year-end statement.
Details on the 1099-B issuance deadline change are available in this IRS announcement.
Information on information returns: All these 1099s and similar forms are called information returns. That's a pretty straightforward description from an agency usually known for obfuscation.
Basically, they provide the IRS information about your various tax-affected financial transactions. This gives the IRS an idea of what to expect to see on your 1040.
Information returns, says the IRS, are required of "any person, including a corporation, partnership, individual, estate, and trust, who make reportable transactions during the calendar year."
You can check out the very long list of these documents and what transactions they cover in the IRS' Guide to Information Returns.