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In the United States, it's tax time. To help ease that headache, we've compiled a list explaining some of the tax forms you might need to complete your taxes.

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In the United States, it's time for everyone's favorite holiday: Tax Season. Oh, not yours? Well then think about it this way: the sooner you finish your taxes, the sooner you get that tax refund back from the government. Or if you owe taxes, the sooner you can a payment plan started.

Here we'll go over things you need to know if you're the kind of person who's stumbled through doing your taxes before and found the process really confusing. This can be the case, especially if you have, for example, a main job and a side hustle that brings in extra income.

So! Let's gear up and get into the spirit of things.

  Intro (0:33)

   Step 1: Gather Supplies (0:40)

The first step is to gather your supplies. Here's a basic list of what you need to have with you to get your taxes done. We're assuming that you have at least one job, have student loans, and have a checking account. But personal finances are like snowflakes: every one is different.

The W-2(s) from your job or jobs.
...Like this.

This is the form that tells you how much income you received from your employer and what taxes were withheld from it. Your employer is supposed to mail you your W-2 by the end of January. If you've moved in the last year, you should check with your employer to see which address they sent the W-2 to.

1099 forms for your other income.
...Looks like this.

The 1099-MISC is for self-employment income. This is like the self-employed person's W-2. It's the form that helps you tally up the money you've made as a self-employed person to the government.

Then there's other 1099s like the 1099-INT for the income that was made from interest on your checking- or savings-account. Your bank should send you these forms.

There's also the 1099-DIV if you've owned stocks or a mutual fund that pay out dividends.

Other forms you may receive like this one.

If you've paid at least $600 in interest on your student loans, you'll get a 1098-E in the mail. You might be able to use this form to get back some of that money. Yes!

And a 1098-T if you've enrolled in higher education within the last year. You might be eligible for an education credit or deduction, which is good news. Check out this video that Mike made last year to learn about some lesser-known tax deductions. 

And if you have an IRA you'll get Form 5498 from the institution or trustee that manages it.

Health care forms this one!

These forms show whether you signed up for the Affordable Care Act or not. These are your 1095 forms. If you're enrolled in the marketplace, look out for form -A in the mail. If your insurance comes from your employer, they may send you -B or -C depending on how many people they employ.

Number from your checking or savings account

Because that's the fastest and cheapest way to get your tax refund from the governments.

A debit or credit card if you're using an online tax service that costs money.

A top hat!

Okay, you don't really need a top hat, but if it makes you feel like a monopoly tycoon, then go for it!

Your favorite beverage.

If your taxes start to get a little frustrating, take a deep breath and sip a drink for a second.

How to Adult does not condone intoxicated tax preparing

   Step 2: Pick a Filing Method (3:32)

Step two: pick which way you're going to do your taxes. The old-fashioend way is to use paper forms. The advantage to paper forms is that they're free and you can find them at

The disadvantage is, uh, who fills out paper forms anymore? Seriously, paper forms can be intimidating and, if you make any mistakes on them, that's totally on you. For example, if you write down a digit of your Social Security Number wrong, you probably will get audited.

Online tax preparation services like H&R Block and TurboTax offer a lot of advantages and they didn't pay us to say that. E-filing your taxes is usually pretty fast. You don't have to do any math by yourself and their systems are designed to catch mistakes you might make.

The drawback is that these services can sometimes cost money if your taxes are more complicated than just the 1040-EZ form. Is $30-50 worth it to not sweat over a paper form? It's totally up to you!

You can also visit a tax preparer in person, but that's more expensive and really only worth it if your finances are complicated and you have dependents to claim.

 Step 3: File! (4:38)

Step three: do your taxes! 

We have videos that delve into this more deeply here and here. If you assemble all of your materials ahead of time, you can do your taxes in a couple of hours at the very most and get on with your beautiful life.

Lastly, don't throw away all of the paperwork you just assembled. Hold onto your tax forms and tax return for at least three years in case the IRS decides to audit you. Audits are unlikely for the average person who files single and make a modest income, but you never know.

If you have any questions or stories about taxes or have a topic you'd like us to cover, leave us your thoughts in the comments below. And if you want to learn more about adulting with Hank and me, go to and subscribe.