The Most Common Tax Forms Received by San Rafael Residents

Which Tax Forms You’ll Get — And Why You Need Them

When the new year rolls around, each trip to your San Rafael mailbox probably requires keeping a sharper eye for tax forms. These usually come with big bold IMPORTANT TAX FORM INCLUDED on the outside. Various forms will arrive, and though they are technically required to be sent by the end of January, this doesn’t always happen. You may also receive notifications in your email inbox about electronic versions available for secure download.

All tax forms are important, though some of you may only receive one or two while others will receive many. It all depends on your financial circumstances as well as the type of work you do. Let’s take a closer look at what might arrive.


The Tax Forms You Should Expect To See

W2: The W2 is the most common tax form received. For people who only us a 1040EZ to file their taxes, the W2 is essentially all you need. The W2 has the critical aspects of what has been factored into your regular payroll.

Not only does this include what you’ve earned (including tips, should that be an element in your job), the W2 also breaks down what has been paid in federal and state taxes, social security taxes, tax-deferred 401k, and other such standard information.

If you’re a single person filing without any investments, supplementary income, deductions, dependents, or other such complicating factors, you should be able to use your W2 and a consumer tax program to quickly and easily complete your filing.

If you’re a small business owner and you’re trying to determine whether or not to prepare a W2 or a 1099, the key difference is payroll — if someone is on staff with payroll deductions, then they get a W2.

1099-MISC: 1099-MISC forms are the most common forms sent for independent contractors — any outsourced work or one-off help from an external source qualifies for a 1099-MISC. Technically, companies must only send out 1099-MISC if they pay above $600.

The reason for this is that if they included every small service, the list could be theoretically endless. It must be for services rather than goods, and it must be for business purposes rather than personal. Many companies do send 1099-MISC for business payments at less than $600, and this is their own internal decision.

However, if you are on that end of the spectrum, don’t be surprised if one doesn’t show up. You should still account for the payment in your books.

1098: For most taxpayers, the 1098 form is probably the second-most familiar form. 1099-MISC is common, but only for people who work as contractors. 1098, however, applies to anyone who owns a home. The 1098 form documents how much you’ve paid in mortgage interest. If you’ve refinanced a home, you should receive two 1098 forms from the different banks handling the refinance.

Like 1099-MISC, this technically applies only above $600, which is a fairly easy threshold to meet when it comes to mortgages. In general, even mortgage-interest payments below $600 receive 1098s from banks. (Tangent: it’s important to note that rules regarding mortgage-interest write-offs are changing with the massive new tax-law overhaul, and you should educate yourself on the matter.)

1095-A: If you participate in a Marketplace program under Affordable Care Act (e.g. Covered California), then you will receive a 1095-A from the Marketplace provider, usually by mid-February at the latest. This is often available on your Marketplace online account as well.

The 1095-A form includes information on your premiums paid as well as tax credits applied to premiums. This form works in conjunction 8962 to determine if there is any balance remaining between qualified credits and credits applied.


Have other forms coming your way? For San Rafael residents looking to figure out what the various forms mean and what you’ll need for your specific situation, I invite you to schedule a free consultation with Books in Balance. We’ll clear up your situation and get your paperwork ready to begin your tax filing.

Brandon Dante
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