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Published: December 30, 2019   |   Last Updated: September 23, 2020

Wait to receive your W-2 form or other income statements to file your tax return

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) wants to help you be prepared for the tax filing season. One way to avoid tax processing or refund delivery delays is to wait until you’ve received all of your final wage and income statements, such as Forms W-2 or 1099. Why?


The IRS checks the income amounts you claim against the forms and information filed by others, like employers. This can include wages, interest, stocks, and other income related amounts. The IRS uses information matching to strengthen security reviews that help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. This process can take time and also depends on the payers filing these forms timely.

  • If you are not sure what is considered income, see What is Taxable and Nontaxable Income?
    Also, your final income statement may include amounts that weren’t included in a regular pay statement. Those differences may include end of the year payroll adjustments, bonuses, or tips.

Amending Your Tax Return

Amending your tax return after filing your taxes to report additional income, if you forgot something or didn’t enter the correct amount, is no easy task and can take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks to process since the IRS can only process amended returns via paper forms. Plus, if that change creates a tax increase, but you received a refund from your initial tax return submission, you may be charged interest and, in some cases, penalties, depending on when you submit the amended return.
So, it really is worth waiting to file until all final income documents are received.

Didn’t Receive a Form?

Your employer and educational institutions have until January 31 to send your W-2, Form 1098T, and other income forms. Some exceptions to this rule may apply. The due date for other forms such as Forms 1099-B, 1099-S, and 1099-MISC (if amounts are reported in box 8 or 14) is February 18, 2020.
Please note that different due dates may apply to other forms and versions of the Form 1099.

Join Us at an Event Near You for More Tax Filing Tips

The Taxpayer Advocate service is holding events around the country the week of January 13-17, 2020. If you prepare your own tax return using software or on paper forms, plan to attend one of these free events and get tips to avoid federal tax filing and processing delays. No appointment is needed. You can also visit our TAS Tax Tips page throughout the tax filing season for more helpful information.

Other Things to Consider

Again, various financial transactions, especially those occurring late in the year, can often have an unexpected impact on taxes and any potential refund. Examples include year-end and holiday bonuses, stock dividends, capital gain distributions from mutual funds and stocks, bonds, virtual currency, real estate or other property sold at a profit.

  • Taxes are a pay-as-you-go system and must be paid as income is earned or received during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. If the amount of tax withheld from your salaries or pensions is not enough, you may have to make estimated tax payments.
  • Taxpayers whose 2019 federal income tax withholding unexpectedly falls short of their tax liability for the year, can still make a quarterly estimated tax payment directly to the IRS. The deadline for making a payment for the fourth quarter of 2019 is January 15, 2020.

For anyone at risk for a tax-time surprise, making an estimated or additional tax payment soon is the fastest solution. An estimated tax payment can be made electronically using IRS Direct Pay or the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). For information on other payment options, visit IRS.gov/payments.

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