Here's What Forms You Should Have Together Before Tackling Your Taxes

by Chelsea Stewart
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With tax season in full effect, there is one question that lingers for many: What forms do I need to file taxes? It seems pretty confusing, given all the documents we naturally have assigned to us, from birth certificates to social security cards. But don't fret — the forms you need to file taxes are below. Oh, and you might want to grab a pen and paper, because the list is long AF.

At the end of the day the forms you'll need will depend a lot on your personal situation, so let's start with the big things and go from there, shall we? Perhaps most important is going to be your W-2 form — that medium-sized letter you may have gotten in the mail from your employer a few weeks ago. (If you didn't, try reaching out to your employer and requesting another one — all W-2 forms are required to be sent out by Jan. 31.) Another thing everyone needs these days is a record of your health insurance — you should gotten a 1095 form (which will be marked A, B, or C depending on whether you buy through the marketplace or are covered through other methods). If you're paying off student loans or are still in school, you'll need some more forms, too — 1098-T from your school if you're still attending and have educational expenses, or 1098-E if you're paying interest on student loans.

If you have children, you're going to need dependent information, such as child care records, and for the homeowners out there, you'll need things like record of estimated tax payments made on the property. Are you retiring or have you invested or anything? There are documents for that, as well as for anyone who has made charitable donations, gotten unemployment payments, or been affected by federally declared disasters.

Oof. That's a lot. Thankfully, H&R Block has a checklist you can see here that can help you make sure that you have everything you need before filing.

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Whatever you do, make sure you have your documents together and your taxes filed by April 15, which is the very last day to get them in. If not, there's a pretty good chance that you'll end up having to pay a hefty fine which is called a failure-to-file penalty. The penalty deducts a minimum of five percent of what you might owe, and up to a 25 percent maximum of what you owe. Not. Good.

And those rates could go up. If you still haven't filed your taxes more than 60 days after the April 15 deadline, the charges will either increase to a $135 fee or 100 percent of the taxes you owe, according to Yahoo. Don't sleep on this, is what I'm saying.

If worse comes to worse and you just know you're not gonna be able to complete the process, whether that's because you don't have the funds to pay your taxes by the deadline or you're missing a document, you can submit a Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File, which will give you a six-month extension to get your taxes in (until Oct. 15). All you have to do is make sure the form is postmarked on or before April 15 and then you should be good to go. Head to H&R Block's website for further information on this option.

Filing your taxes shouldn't be scary. Remember that outlets like H&R Block, Turbo Tax, and Free Tax USA are here for you and with their help, getting your taxes together should be a piece of cake. Happy filing!