Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 31.
Let's face it, there's been no real reason to get the mail since they stopped sending the Victoria's Secret catalog earlier this year.
But this time of year, you do need to get off your butt and check your mail box for a few weeks. Mainly because your tax documents are coming and you need to keep track of them.
That includes your email inbox too. Many tax docs are coming via email now - so don't be so quick to trash everything.
And while you may not be ready to sit down and prepare your return, keep all that stuff together. So whether you grab an old-school folder or create one in your email, drop and drag everything into one place so it's all ready for you.
And actually look at the forms as they arrive, because it's not uncommon for them to have errors. And correcting them can take weeks - so you'll need to hop on that soon.
By law, most of your tax forms have to arrive by January 31, but as with all things, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Your W-2 May Actually Be Delayed
"As part of an ongoing effort to combat identity theft, the IRS added a 16-digit verification code to 50 million W-2 forms," says Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield, a provider of legal services in the US and parts of Canada.
(Just what you need - more numbers.)
The good news is that all you need to do with this code is enter it in the appropriate space when you file online. (Folks that still file via snail mail don't need to worry about it.)
The code, which is not going to affect the outcome of your tax return, is part of a test to try to reduce identity theft and stolen income tax refunds. The IRS will analyze results the end of the tax season to see if it actually worked.
If you received any interest or dividends, you should get Form 1099s for those distributions.
If you traded anything this year, you will receive a 1099-B -- Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. This form may come a little later, because it's complicated to fill out, especially if you're an active trader. It also may come electronically from your broker - so look out for it. And please check it. This form is ripe for errors.
Self-Employed and Sharing Economy Forms
These forms may be new to you this year if you just started working on your own in 2016.
If you started working in the sharing economy and got paid from credit or debit cards or from third-party payment processors, like PayPal, Amazon and eBay, you may get a 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Transactions. The numbers on this form will need to go on your tax return, so save it.
A Health Care - Again
The forms that let the government know you have health care are not any new this year, but no surprise, people are still confused by them.
So here's the skinny. You'll get a Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, if you, your spouse or a dependent enrolled in health insurance through a state or federal exchange, a.k.a. the marketplace. You need this form to prepare your tax return.
Forms 1095-B and C are for people who have insurance from their employer and are for information purposes only. So you don't have to do anything with them.
K-1s Come Late Too
If you are invested in partnerships, you will receive a Form K-1, Partner's Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc. You just may not get it until April.
Seriously. That's mainly because it takes time to split everything up between the partners.
So you may want to put your tax return on extension to be safe.
Same goes for Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. If you contributed to an IRA in 2016, your tax document may show up late. So be on the lookout for it.
Now while none of this stuff is nearly as sexy as that fabulous catalog, it is all very important. So just be sure to save everything.