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Where Are My Tax Forms? When Your W-2, 1099, 1098 & Other Forms Aren't In The Mail

By now, you should have most of your tax forms. Should. Not all tax forms are due just yet.

If you’re looking for your forms, you should have received your forms W-2 and most forms 1099 by January 31, 2014.

That was last week. But before you start complaining, look around a bit. Yours could be stuck in a catalog ...or lost in that pile of mail on the kitchen counter that you’ve been swearing to sort through for weeks. It could be in your bin at work. Before you assume that it wasn’t delivered, double check.

Also check your email. Tax forms cannot be automatically generated electronically without your consent unless a paper copy is also issued. In these days of electronic statements, electronic transfers and electronic filings, it’s not out of the question that you sometime checked a box to receive your information electronically. So check your inbox, too, before assuming that the forms weren’t sent.

If you’re sure that you didn’t receive your forms, give your employer (or the issuer in the case of a 1099, 1098 or other form) a shout. It might be easy to fix. You might not have received the form because of an incomplete or bad address – or maybe you moved this year – so check to make sure that your information is correct. Or maybe the address is correct but your form got lost in the mail (it happens). If that’s the case, your employer can simply furnish you with another form. Problem solved. You don’t have to be nasty or rude about it.

But what about employers who are no longer in business or those that have moved? I still recommend trying to contact your employer. Again, it’s the fastest, easiest solution. If you don’t receive your forms and you don’t know where your employer has moved, try putting something in writing to the last known address: it’s quite possible that there is a forwarding order at the post office and that will take care of the problem. Or Google: I know that it’s not technically your job to find your employer on the internet , you can take a second to look for a change of address.

If after all of that, you still don’t have your forms, or if your forms aren’t correct, contact the IRS. But don’t jump the gun: the IRS does not want to hear from you about missing forms until after February 14. Then, consider it your little love note to them on Valentine’s Day. Contact the IRS by calling 1.800.829.1040. You’ll need to have your personal information handy, including address, phone number and Social Security Number. It’s also helpful to have your dates of employment, an estimate of the amount that you’ve earned and your federal income tax withholdings – you can find most of this information on your last pay stub. You’ll also need the name, address and phone number of your employer. Do yourself (and the IRS) a favor and have all of that info together before you call. A word of warning: be prepared to wait. Hold times are long. Make your life easier by having all of the right information before you pick up the phone.

After you contact the IRS, the IRS will contact your employer, or the form issuer, with a form 4598, Form W-2, 1098 or 1099 Not Received, Incorrect, or Lost. You’ll receive a copy of the form 4598, along with a form 4852, Substitute for Form W–2 or Form 1099–R. If your employer is smart, they’ll send your docs right out to you. But if they’re not? If you still don’t receive your form W-2 after all of that, you should file the form 4852 – but plan on another wait since the IRS requests that you not file that form until Tax Day, April 15.

You will need to be patient. The IRS doesn’t take kindly to folks creating drama and filing a form 4852 just to get a return in early or to teach your old employer a lesson. If you use form 4852 for “improper use” you could be hit with accuracy-related penalties equal to 20% of the amount of taxes that should have been paid; civil fraud penalties equal to 75% of the amount of taxes that should have been paid, and/or a $5,000 civil penalty for filing a frivolous return or taking a frivolous position.

If you receive your missing or corrected form W-2 or form 1099 after you’ve filed your return and you need to make a correction, file an amended return using form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

There are some exceptions to the January 31 deadline for forms 1099. Those include forms 1099-B (for reporting of proceeds from brokers and barter exchanges), 1099-S (for reporting real estate sales) and the ever popular 1099-MISC (if amounts are reported in boxes 8 or 14). Those forms are generally due to taxpayers by February 18, 2014.

Some forms might be issued earlier – so dig back through last year’s mail if you’re missing a 1099 or a 1098-C. If you redeemed savings bonds, for example, the form 1099-INT might have been issued at the time of redemption. Similarly, if you donated a car to charity during the year, the form 1098-C would have been acknowledged within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle or within 30 days of the contribution (this one won’t be in your email, the form 1098-C must be issued by mail). If you sold real property during the year, you should have received those statements at closing or by February 18, 2014.

What about those special accounts? You should receive traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, or SIMPLE contribution information by June 2, 2014. You should receive information about Coverdell ESA contributions by April 30, 2014.

What about those special accounts? You should receive traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, or SIMPLE contribution information by June 2, 2014. You should receive information about Coverdell ESA contributions by April 30, 2014.

You should also put the brakes on filing if you’re a beneficiary of a trust or estate, or a shareholder, partner or member of an LLC, LLP or S corporation. Those entities rarely – if ever – file early. And since those are pass through entities, they must prepare their actual tax returns before they can furnish any Schedules K-1. Those might take until March or April to show up on your doorstep. In some cases – if there’s an extension, for example – it could take longer. Like October longer. If you’re not sure what the time frame is, and you haven’t heard otherwise, drop a note to the powers that be to find out when you can expect your forms.

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