Money·5 min read

Easy as 1-W-2-3

Easy as 1-W2-3
Jan 28, 2019

The Story

You may or may not have noticed: there are a lot of forms when it comes to taxes.


Don’t stress. Here’s everything you need to know about the important who needs what and where to find them.

For when you’re workin’ 9 to 5…

Workin’ for that W-2 form too. The form that shows how much you made last year, and how much your company withheld for things like taxes and healthcare costs. Your employer will hit you up with a copy – either by mail or online – by the end of January.

For when you’re literally one in (a) millions of people filing taxes…

Here’s something you all have in common: the 1040 form – aka the individual income tax return. Where you put down your income, deductions, and some personal info. The goal: help you and the gov figure out whether it’s you or them that has to pay up, and how much. If you’re filing taxes online, you’ll automatically fill out this form as part of the process. But you can also access it on the IRS’s website if you’re going the snail mail route. Or if you’re getting an assist from a tax pro (psst...H&R Block has your back), they’ll take care of it.

For when you’re making cash on the side…

We see your cash and raise you a 1099 form. V important if you’re a freelancer, contract worker, self-employed, or make money from things like rent or dividends. It shows how much you made. And you got options. 1099-MISC: for different income you made from clients, which you’ll get from them. 1099-DIV: for dividends paid out to you, which you’ll get from your investment platform. 1099-INT: for interest you’ve earned on any financial accounts, which you’ll also get from your bank, brokerage firm, etc. Expect to get your hands on these forms by the end of January, either online or in the mail.

For when your mortgage or student loan is stressing you out…

At least there’s the 1098 – which can help you get deductions based on interest you’re paying. There’s more than one type. 1098: for your mortgage interest. 1098-E: for your student loans. You’ll get these two from your lender by the end of January. There’s also 1098-T: for college tuition or scholarships and grants. You’ll get this from your college by the end of January. All 1098 forms should be available either online or by mail.

For when your cold isn’t motivating you to do your taxes…

A tax form a day keeps the IRS away. Including 1095 forms. It shows the gov that you have health insurance, which is still required under the Affordable Care Act (the new tax law will phase out this req when you file your taxes next year). And shows your healthcare costs. There are three types, depending on how you get health care. 1095-A: if it’s through the federal or state-based Marketplace (like Obamacare). 1095-B: if it’s through a gov-sponsored program (like CHIP or Medicare), an individual insurance plan, or if you work for a smaller company (aka less than 50 people). 1095-C: if you work for a larger company. Expect to get these.

For when you’re the procrastinator of the group…

Meet your new best friend: the 4868 form. The IRS’s version of the snooze button. Fill this out if you need an extension (typically six months) to file your taxes. You don’t need an official reason to get an extension, but if you have a family emergency or issues getting certain paperwork, this might be for you. You can file for this on the IRS website or print it out and mail it in. Heads up: you only get an extension to file your tax paperwork, not to pay up. Meaning you should estimate how much you owe, and pay when you file the extension form. That’ll help avoid interest and penalties if you end up owing the gov more money once your return is in.

For when that refund is too big for your wallet…

But might wanna do something about it. When you first start working for a company, you’ll get a W-4 form – which tells your co how much to withhold from your paycheck. If you get a really big refund, your co might be withholding too much. On the flip side, if you owe the gov a lot of money, your co might not be withholding enough. Your withholdings might have been thrown off by the new tax code. Talk to your HR dept if you want to make some edits to your W-4. Pro-tip: also good to make edits if you recently got married or had a kid.


Tax forms look scary. They’re not – as long as you know your way around them. Still need help getting your forms in order? H&R Block is here for you.

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