Your Takeaways:

  • Common IRS forms that provide tax information include W-2s for employment income, 1099s for other income like dividends and interest, and 1098s for mortgage and student loan interest paid.
  • Major tax forms you fill out include Form 1040 for your personal income tax return and Schedule A-D attachments, Form W-4 to set tax withholding, and Form 4868 to file for an extension.
  • All IRS forms can be found on the IRS website but using tax software can make filing easier and help avoid errors.
  • Filing for a tax extension with Form 4868 gives you an extra 6 months to complete your tax return, but does not extend the deadline to pay any taxes owed.

The IRS has over 800 different forms and schedules. Knowing which form to use and how to fill it out can be extremely overwhelming.

There is no need to struggle over IRS form confusion any longer! While it may seem like the IRS has an abundance of forms, most people only use about 10 of them in their lifetime. 

In this article, we’ll go over the most common IRS forms and how to use them.

Common IRS Forms That Provide Information

Some of the most commonly used IRS forms don't even have to be filled out. These forms simply provide you with the information you need to fill out your own tax forms.

Important tax documentation enclosed

W-2: Employment Income

If you receive income from an employer, then chances are that you'll receive a W-2.

This form is essentially an overview of how you've been compensated and provides an accounting of your earnings, contributions, and withholdings throughout the year. 

Key information included on your W-2 includes:

  • Income earned

  • Taxes paid/withheld

  • Benefits received

  • Reductions to taxable income (i.e., 401(k) contributions, etc.)

Your employer should fill this form out and send it to you each year no later than January 31st.

1099: Other Forms of Income

A 1099 is generally issued to you when you earn income from someone other than a traditional employer. This may be from investment returns, a side gig, or any number of other means. Some of the most common 1099 forms include:

  • 1099-NEC: Nonemployee compensation

  • 1099-DIV: Investment dividends and distributions

  • 1099-INT: Interest you've earned on a savings account

  • 1099-K: Income from a third-party payment platform

  • 1099-B: Income from the sale of securities at a brokerage

While this list is not exhaustive, it does cover common 1099s you may come across in a given year. Most 1099s are sent by January 31st.

1098: Mortgage or Student Loan Interest Statement

If you didn't know, interest paid on the mortgage of your primary residence and student loan interest is tax-deductible. Therefore, your lender will provide you with a Form 1098 that details the interest you've paid on your loan.

For mortgage interest, you should receive Form 1098, which includes the following:

  • Mortgage interest received

  • Mortgage origination date

  • Refund of overpaid interest

  • Mortgage premiums paid

  • Points paid when purchasing a property

For interest paid on a student loan, you should receive Form 1098-E. This form is much simpler and essentially details the amount of student loan interest the lender has received from you.

Common Tax Forms You Fill Out

Up to this point, we've covered tax forms that you may receive to help you fill out your own tax forms. Now, we'll shift gears to the tax forms that taxpayers dread the most - the ones you have to fill out.

A man completing his tax forms by hand.

Form 1040: Federal Tax Income Form

W-2s, 1099s, and 1098s all give you the information that you need to fill out a Form 1040, better known as your individual income tax return. Form 1040 is what you use to give the IRS a snapshot of your income, deductions, credits, and ultimately how much you owe in taxes each year. 

A Form 1040 does four things:

  • Tells the IRS who you are and gives them information about you, such as your filing status, and how many dependents you have.

  • Calculates your taxable income, which helps you determine and report how much of the income you earned is taxable.

  • Calculates your tax liability, which determines how much you owe in taxes.

  • Determines your year-end tax bill or refund, so you know if your withholdings covered your taxes for the year, if you've overpaid, or if you owe the IRS additional money.

The Form 1040 itself is fairly straightforward; however, there are several different attachments (also known as schedules) that help you arrive at the figures necessary to complete the 1040. 

Some of the most commonly used attachments on the Form 1040 include:

  • Schedule A: If you choose to itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction, then you'll need to complete this attachment.

  • Schedule B: This is used to report any taxable interest or dividends that you received.

  • Schedule C: This is where you report profits and losses if you’re a freelancer (self-employed) or own a small business. This is also where you can deduct certain business expenses to help lower your tax liability.

  • Schedule D: This is used to report capital gains and losses. (Be sure to keep track of your losses to offset any capital gains.)

W-4: Tax Withholdings

A W-4 informs your employer how much money should be withheld from your paycheck to pay federal taxes. Essentially, it informs your employer what they should be withholding in taxes based on your filing status or number of dependents.

Most people fill out a W-4 on their first day of work and don't submit another one until they start a new job. However, if big life events - like getting married or having a child - occur while you remain at a job, you should consider revising your W-4. That way, you get paid the money you're owed up front instead of waiting to claim it as part of your tax return.

Form 4868: Extension Filing

If you need a little extra time to complete Form 1040, you can submit Form 4868 to get an extension to file your taxes. Form 4868 must be submitted by the original tax deadline, which is typically April 15th every year (unless the 15th falls on a holiday or weekend).

Filing an extension is a great way to get extra time to collect your tax documents, but remember that it does not give you extra time to pay any taxes you owe. Learn more about the beauty of a tax filing extension to see how it may benefit you.

Where Can I Find Common IRS Forms?

All IRS forms can be found in a digital format on the IRS Website. However, completing IRS forms can be extremely difficult. The directions on the forms aren't always clear, and it's usually hard to know if you're even submitting the correct form.

One of the best ways to file your tax forms error-free is by using tax software. IRS Extension provides tax-extension filing software, so you can get an additional 6 months to file your taxes. File your extension today! 

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