The Tax Man … check your W2's for accuracy!

I can’t believe it’s not yet February and I’m writing about Tax returns! Truth be told, I am typically one of those people who files hard copies of my taxes on that last Tuesday in April. But I suppose that’s in keeping with my general attitude towards personal finances for the first 30 years of my life … an attitude dominated by laziness and a lack of discipline.

But this year things will be different. This year I’m going to file online and I’m going to file as quickly as possible! It’s amazing – having my Debt Snowball front of my mind really adds a sense of urgency to my financial decisions. The idea of getting out of debt is so attractive that I’ve done a complete 180 … or at least a 180 for me. For the first time in my life I’ve tracked my spending for a month (and even enjoyed doing so), I’ve cut back on frivolous spending (lunches out, random credit purchases, monthly subscriptions to things I didn’t really use) … imagining a life without consumer debt is just so damn appealing!!

But to continue with taxes … here’s a warning to everybody out there – DO NOT ASSUME YOUR EMPLOYER GOT YOUR W2’S RIGHT!!! My employer for much of last year (I switched jobs in September) sent me two W2 forms – one for my regular earnings and another for a brief stint that I spent on short-term disability. Well, surprise of all surprises … the short-term disability W2 had a reported an income twice of what it should have been. Apparently my previous employer had duplicated a couple of checks paid to me during that time frame.

So what does this all mean? My previous employer will need to issue me a W-2c and the purpose of this form is to correct W2 errors. I had never heard of this before and perhaps there’s a good chance you haven’t either.

For some basic information, visit the IRS site at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw2cw3c.pdf  

The moral of the story – take a close look at your W2 forms this year! While the mistake on my forms may only amount to a few thousand dollars, I’d be willing to be that much larger and more serious mistakes exist.

And for any of you out there that may still be filing hard copies – do it online this year. It really is so much easier – not to mention you can file your Federal Tax Returns for free.

Check it out at – http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=7

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