I've become a big fan of handling my finances online. But there are two issues with which I continually wrestle.
First is all those log-in IDs and passwords. I try to be secure and use different ones to stymie identity thieves. Most of the time, however, the roadblocks slow me, not some hacker, down! So I constantly have to refer to my sign-in cheat sheet.
The other issue is remembering to check my accounts for statements. Yes, I do get e-mail notifications that my statement or bill is ready. But I get so much (too much) electronic communication that these announcements often get lost in my in-box.
This time of year, though, I know I need to check all my financial accounts for the tax documents needed to file my tax return. The deadline for them to be sent is Jan. 31.
These are all those wonderful, numerically named documents -- W-2s and the various versions of 1099 -- that tell you and, more importantly, the IRS just how much money you got from various sources during the last tax year.
The IRS has it's official versions of the statements, but in most cases we get substitute forms from our employers and account managers.
That's OK with the IRS. The tax agency understands that everyone has different computer systems so it really doesn't care what they look like.
As long as the document has the basic info -- name, tax ID numbers and amount of money -- these different statements are fine.
Remember, it's generally only a copy of your W-2 that you have to send in with your Form 1040. The other documents are informational only.
But make sure you include the data from them on your tax return.The information goes not only to you, but also to the IRS.
If you overlook income from one of your 1099s, you can be sure that you'll get a notice from the tax man about the oversight.
Even worse, your error will affect your final tax liability.
If you're getting a refund, forgetting to include the information could mean the amount you'll get back will be less.
And if you owe Uncle Sam, your bill will be a bit bigger.
So keep an eye out for the tax statements. Check them for accuracy when they arrive. And remember to include all the information on your return.
Information overload: If you'd like to see just how much information the IRS gets on taxpayers, check out the agency's very large Guide to Information Returns.
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