Here’s one that you can file under “what not to do”… You know your final paycheck of the year? The one with the check stub that reads “Year-to-Date”? It means nothing.
When I used to prepare returns, I used to cringe whenever a client brought in a paycheck stub and explained to me that they had lost/had not received/burned/stuffed in a pocket their form W-2 and wanted to use a check stub as a substitute. After all, they reasoned, there is a “Year-to-Date” column.
Yes, the “Year-to-Date” column is a reasonable representation of what you were paid and the taxes which were withheld during the year. But your form W-2 has a lot more information on it than just wages and withholding. There’s a breakdown of taxable benefits, deferred compensation, dependent care benefits, nontaxable combat pay, reimbursements, sick pay and other tax-related information. In most cases, you’re not going to find that information on a check stub.
Most importantly, the IRS matches up information from your form W-2 to your form 1040. So, er, shouldn’t you?
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