Tips for Tax Procrastinators: Get copies of the documents you've lost

You've lost your tax documents. Now what? Call the companies that issued them and have them send you copies. It's really not that hard, and while it's a bit of an inconvenience for the company, they're usually able to do it quickly. But the sooner you call, the sooner you'll get the copies.

This goes for your W-2s, your 1099s for interest, dividends, pension income, or subcontractor income. You can also call your mortgage company to get a copy of your 1098 for mortgage interest, and contact your local government about the property taxes you paid.

Obviously, losing these items makes preparing your taxes a bit more difficult, but they're not impossible to replace. Remember that the burden of proving your income and deductions rest on you, the taxpayer. If the IRS ever questions or audits your tax return, you must prove the numbers to them. That's why it's important to hang onto copies of all your documentation.

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Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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