Tax Tip: Get Ready to Prepare Your Return

Editor's Note: This article is part of our 2013 Tax Tips series. Robert Flach is an expert with almost 40 years of experience as a tax professional and also blogs as The Wandering Tax Pro.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In the next few weeks you’ll be getting the information returns you will need to prepare your 2012 Form 1040. Employers, banks, brokers, mortgage companies, mutual funds, etc. are required to provide taxpayers with W-2s, 1099s and 1098s by Jan. 31.

The deadline is extended to Feb. 15 for:

  • 1099-B (Proceeds from broker and barter exchange transactions)
  • 1099-S (Proceeds from real estate transactions)
  • 1099-MISC (miscellaneous Income) if there is an entry in Box 8 or 14.

As you get W-2s and 1099s, check the figures against your own records to make sure the amounts reported are correct. And verify that the Social Security number indicated on all the forms is right.

A bank may issue one Form 1099-INT for all the accounts that belong to the same name and Social Security number. There may be several accounts listed on a single 1099-INT. It is important to verify each account listed to make sure they all belong to you. A few years ago a client got a 1099-INT with someone else’s account and $300,000-plus in interest included! Had he not checked the form carefully he would have paid almost $100 in unnecessary federal and state income tax.

Some dividend checks mailed out in December or January have a Form 1099-DIV attached. Don’t separate the check and throw out the 1099-DIV by mistake thinking it is merely a stub. Also, check any 1099-DIV you get to see if there is a dividend check attached. I can’t tell you how many times I have found checks attached to 1099s given to me by clients.

If you discover an error on an information return, contact the employer or financial institution immediately for an explanation or a corrected copy.

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