Key IRS Tax Forms, Schedules & Publications for 2023

Here are some major IRS tax forms, schedules and publications everyone should know.
Tina Orem
By Tina Orem 
Edited by Chris Hutchison

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IRS tax forms are documents used to report certain financial transactions, calculate taxes owed or prepare tax returns. There are hundreds of kinds of IRS forms, and the IRS reissues many of them on an annual basis to incorporate changes in tax rules. Happily, you probably don’t need to care about most of them.

Many IRS forms are now available for the 2022 tax year, which is what you'll need to file your taxes by the April 18, 2023, tax deadline.

Where can I get IRS tax forms?

There are six ways to get IRS forms to do your taxes.

  1. Online. The IRS website has IRS tax forms you can download as PDFs, print or request via mail. The agency also offers Braille-ready formats that work with screen enlargers, screen-reading software or embossed printing.

  2. By phone. Call the IRS (see our list of IRS phone numbers for customer service) and ask to have IRS forms mailed to you.

  3. Tax software. Good tax software packages offer blank IRS forms to look at as you complete the process of preparing your tax return.

  4. IRS Free File. The IRS Free File program offers blank fillable IRS forms to everyone, regardless of income.

  5. Library. Check the library or the post office. Many offer free tax forms during filing season.

  6. Local IRS office. You can also try visiting your local IRS office (called a Taxpayer Assistance Center).

Common IRS tax forms you should know about (and where to get them)

Here are common IRS forms and schedules you should know about before you file your taxes. Three of them — the W-2, 1098 and 1099 — are IRS forms that may be sent to you with information you’ll need in order to file your taxes. The others are IRS forms that you might need to fill out as part of preparing your tax return.

Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR

IRS Form 1040 is the standard federal income tax form people use to report their income, claim tax deductions and credits, and calculate the amount of their tax refund or tax bill for the year. There are three schedules that you may or may not have to tack onto that, depending on your tax situation and whether you want to claim certain deductions and credits. Some people may not have to file any of these new IRS forms. There used to be three varieties of Form 1040 (the 1040EZ, the 1040A and the "long form" 1040). They covered simple to complex tax situations. Now there’s just the 1040 and the 1040-SR for seniors. (How it works.)

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

Schedule A: For itemizing

Schedule A is for itemizing your deductions — property taxes, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, state taxes, medical expenses or one of myriad other tax break options. Its tax-bill-reducing powers make it one of the single most valuable IRS forms in the stack. (Learn more here about whether to itemize or take the standard deduction.)

Learn more about how a Schedule A form works, or get the IRS form and its instructions here.

Schedule B: Reporting interest and dividends

This form tallies all the taxable interest and dividends over $1,500 that you received during the year. Note the word "taxable." The lower the total, the lower your tax bill, which is one reason tax-advantaged accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s can be so valuable — they can help cut your taxable income.

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

Schedule C: For freelancers or small business

Schedule C is what you use to report the profits and losses from freelancing, side gigs or contractor work. It’s also where you can deduct expenses related to the growth and development of your business, such as advertising, home office expenses or office supplies. (How it works.)

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

Schedule D: Capital gains

If you trade stocks, bonds or other instruments, Schedule D is for you, because it’s where you tally your capital gains and losses for the year. If you’re like most investors, some of your investments probably did well, and some probably didn’t. Report both types: Up to $3,000 of your net losses could be deductible ($1,500 for those married and filing separately), and Schedule D is where that mathematical magic happens. You’ll likely need information from other IRS forms called 1099s (see below) to get it done. (How it works.)

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

The W-2: Income from a job

The W-2 is an IRS form your employer sends to you in January or February. The W-2 shows, among other things, how much your employer paid you during the year, what you contributed to your company's retirement plan and the amount of taxes withheld on your behalf. A copy goes to the IRS, so be sure you report this information accurately. (How it works.)

Side note: The W-2 has a cousin called the W-4, which you fill out at work. If you got a huge refund last year, fill out a new W-4 to reduce your withholding — otherwise, you may be needlessly living on less of your paycheck all year.

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

Form 1098: Mortgage or student loan interest you paid

If you have a mortgage, you’ll get one of these IRS forms in the mail or your inbox. It shows the interest (over $600) you paid on your home loan during the year, and that mortgage interest is generally deductible. Students might get a 1098-T, which reports tuition payments they’ve made, or a 1098-E, which reports the interest they’ve paid on their student loans. Student loan interest and tuition payments may also be deductible. (How it works.)

You can get these IRS forms and their instructions here.

Form 1099: Various forms of income you received

The 1099 tax form comes in several flavors, but the big five are the 1099-DIV, 1099-INT, 1099-OID, 1099-MISC, and 1099-NEC. These IRS forms are all records of income you’ve received from a source other than your employer, and whoever sent you one also sent the IRS a copy, so don’t forget to report it on your return. In a nutshell, the 1099-DIV reports dividends and distributions from investments; the 1099-INT reports interest you earned on investments; the 1099-OID comes when you buy a bond or note for less than face value; and the 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC are for most everything else not derived from investments, such as money a client paid you for freelance work. (How it works.)

You can get these IRS forms and their instructions here.

Form 1040-X: To amend or fix a tax return

If you filed your return and then realized you made an error, the 1040-X will save your bacon. You may need to include copies of your other tax forms when you file it. If you find out you owe more due to your mistake, you can still pay online. (How it works.)

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

Form 4868: Getting an extension

File this form with the IRS by the April deadline — you can even do it online — and you’ll buy yourself a tax extension until October. Beware: You have to make a good estimate of what you owe the IRS and send in some or all of that amount along with your extension request. If the estimated payment you send in April ends up being less than what you actually owe, you’ll need to pay interest on the difference. And don’t miss your extended deadline: The IRS can sock you with a late-filing penalty of 5% of the amount due for every month or partial month your return is late. (How it works.)

You can get this IRS form and its instructions here.

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