There are three main forms that US citazens can use to file their annual income tax return. They are the Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A and Form 1040. Below is a description of each along with all the links that you will need to file your taxes.
1. Form 1040EZ is the easiest and simplest form the IRS will let you use to file your taxes.
You need to meet the following conditions in order to use this form:
Your filing status is single or married filing jointly
- You claim no dependents
- You, and your spouse if filing a joint return, were under age 65 at the end of the year
- Your only income sources are wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and your taxable interest was not over $1,500
- Your taxable income is less than $100,000
- Your earned tips, if any, are included in boxes 5 and 7 of your Form W-2
- You do not owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee
- You are not a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after October 16, 2005
- You do not claim any adjustments to income
- You do not claim any credits other than the earned income credit
- Advance payments of the premium tax credit were not made for you, your spouse, or any individual you enrolled in coverage for whom no one else is claiming the personal exemption
- You are not itemizing deductions and claim any adjustments to income tax credits (other than the earned income credit)
If you meet these conditions then file your taxes using the 1040EZ form. It’s the easiest way to do it. Here are links to the forms. Here is the link to the 1040EZ instructions.
2. Form 1040A is the next simplest form allowed by the IRS.
So if you don’t qualify to use the 1040EZ you should check to see if you can use this form instead. The criteria for eligibility for 1040A is listed below.
- Your income is only from wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarships and fellowship grants, interest, ordinary dividends, capital gain distributions, pensions, annuities, IRAs, unemployment compensation, taxable Social Security or railroad retirement benefits, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
- Your taxable income is less than $100,000
- You do not itemize deductions
- You did not have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired from the exercise of an incentive stock option
- Your only adjustments to income are the IRA deduction, the student loan interest deduction, the educator expenses deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, and
- The only credits you are claiming are the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the earned income credit, the credit for the elderly or the disabled, education credits, the child tax credit, the additional child tax credit, the net premium tax credit, or the retirement savings contribution credit
Here’s the link to the 1040A instructions - Form 1040A Instructions
3. 1040 is the most complicated tax form and is used by taxpayers who are unable to file using a 1040EZ or 1040A.
Here is the criteria for using this form.
- Your taxable income is $100,000 or more
- You have certain types of income such as unreported tips; dividends on insurance policies that exceed the total of all net premiums you paid for the contract; self-employment earnings; or income received as a partner, a shareholder in an S corporation, or a beneficiary of an estate or trust
- You itemize deductions or claim certain tax credits or adjustments to income, or
- You owe household employment taxes
Here is the link for the form 1040 instructions - Form 1040 Instructions.
The IRS provides a handy online tool for determining which form you should use when filing your taxes. You can try it out here What is the simplest form to use to file my taxes?
Below is a list of the many of other often used forms. You can use these resources when preparing your own return.
Form 1040, Schedule A - Itemized Deductions
Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule B - Interest and Ordinary Dividends
Form 1040, Schedule C - Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship)
Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ - Net Profit From Business
Form 1040, Schedule D - Capital Gains and Losses
Form 1040, Schedule E - Supplemental Income and Loss
Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule EIC - Earned Income Credit
Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule 8812 - Child Tax Credit
Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule R - Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled
Form 2441 - Child and Dependent Care Expenses
Form 8863 - Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits)
Form 8888 - Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases)
Form 8949 - Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets
If you need help determing which form you need to use feel free to reach out to PJF Tax or just let us handle it for you this tax season.