1. Money

Using the Right Federal Income Tax Return Form

Save Time and Money by Choosing the Correct Tax Form

By

Taxes are one of the certainties in life, and the IRS doesn’t make filing a tax return the easiest thing in the world. For individuals, there are a number of variants for the same form. You have form 1040, 1040A, and even 1040EZ. Each of these forms are used to complete an individual income tax return, but how do you know which one is right for you?

IRS Income Tax Form 1040

Form 1040 is the standard income tax form. Any U.S. resident can use Form 1040, but it is also commonly referred to as the "long form" since it covers many additional schedules that may apply to a more complex tax return.

Form 1040 is appropriate for individuals with:

  • Taxable income of $100,000 or more.
  • Itemized deductions.
  • Income generated from the sale of property.
  • Self-employment income.

IRS Income Tax Form 1040A

If you’re looking at a tax return that may not quite require the full 1040, the next option is Form 1040A. There are some limitations as to who can use this form.

Form 1040A is appropriate if:

  • Taxable income is under $100,000.
  • You use the standard deduction.
  • You have above-the-line deductions.
  • You have capital gain distributions, but no other capital gains or losses.

IRS Income Tax Form 1040EZ

The simplest income tax form is the 1040EZ. This form is for only the most basic tax returns, and a number of limitations apply.

Form 1040EZ can be filed if:

  • Your income is under $100,000.
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
  • You and your spouse must be under age 65.
  • You do not have any dependents.
  • You are not legally blind.

Don’t Overlook the Longer Form

Even if you qualify for using Form 1040A or 1040EZ, you want to keep in mind that there may be additional tax credits or deductions that could be available by using a longer form. It may take a little longer to prepare or require some additional paperwork, but the tax savings could make it worthwhile.

Also, even though the IRS may send you a particular tax form in the mail, this is only their best guess based on your past returns as to what you should file. Changes in your financial situation over the course of the year may require you to file a different form.

  1. About.com
  2. Money
  3. Financial Planning
  4. Tax Planning
  5. Using the Right Federal Income Tax Return Form - Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.