A:

Two of the forms used for filing individual federal income tax returns are IRS Form 1040A and IRS Form 1040EZ (the third is IRS Form 1040, the most complex of the three). Anyone can file Form 1040; however, you have to meet certain requirements to use 1040EZ or 1040A.

Form 1040EZ

Form 1040EZ is the briefest version of the 1040. You can't itemize deductions or claim any adjustments to income or tax credits (except for the Earned Income Credit), and you can't have any income from self-employment, alimony, dividends or capital gains. You can use 1040EZ if all of the following are true:

  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly
  • You claim no dependents
  • You (and your spouse if filing jointly) were under age 65 on January 1 of the year in which you file, and not blind at the end of the tax year for which you are filing
  • Your income is only from wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
  • Your taxable interest is $1,500 or less
  • Your earned tips (if any) are included in boxes 5 and 7 of your From 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 Oct. 16, 2005

Form 1040A is not as complex as Form 1040, but is longer than 1040EZ. Form 1040A allows you to claim a number of deductions that you are not able to on 1040EZ. If you can't use Form 1040EZ, you may be able to use 1040A if:

  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  • 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
  • You do not itemize deductions (so you can't deduct charitable donations or mortgage interest paid)
  • You did not have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired by exercising an incentive stock option
  • Your taxes are only from the Tax Table, the alternative minimum tax, recapture of an education credit, Form 8615 or the Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
  • Your only adjustment to income are the IRA, student loan interest, educator expenses, and tuition and fees deductions
  • The only credits you are claiming are the credit for child and dependent care expenses, EIC, credit for elderly or the disabled, education credits, child tax credit, additional child tax credit, or the retirement savings contribution credit

To learn more about how to get the most back on your tax return, check out How do I know whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction?

RELATED FAQS
  1. Can I use IRS Form 1040EZ to file my tax return?

    IRS Form 1040EZ is the simplest form for filing your taxes, but you must meet certain qualifications to use it. Read Answer >>
  2. Can filing taxes with Form 1040EZ cost me money?

    Filing your taxes with Form 1040EZ may simplify the process, but it could also reduce the refund you're eligible to receive. Read Answer >>
  3. Where on my 1040 form do I report AGI (adjusted gross income)?

    Learn more about IRS Form 1040 and your adjusted gross income, or AGI, which is the figure the IRS uses to figure your total ... Read Answer >>
  4. How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records?

    Having the right information available when the IRS calls can save you considerable time, money and stress. Learn how long ... Read Answer >>
  5. How can I use a child tax credit?

    You may be able to reduce the amount of taxes you owe by up to $4,000, by claiming the child tax credit of up to $1,000 for ... Read Answer >>
  6. Which is better for tax deductions, itemization or a standard deduction?

    Each deduction that you claim may result in a decrease in the amount of taxes that you owe. However, whether you receive ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    The Ultimate Tax-Time Checklist

    Find out what information you need to pull together before filling out your return.
  2. Taxes

    Filing Your First Tax Return

    Tax time can be intimidating - but knowing these tips can ease the process and get you a hefty return.
  3. Taxes

    The 10 Most Common Tax-Filing Mistakes

    Be sure to double check your federal income tax return for these common mistakes that could cost you time and money.
  4. Taxes

    Simple Last-Minute Tax Tips

    A little preparation and organization can take the stress out of last-minute tax filing.
  5. Taxes

    Common Tax Mistakes To Avoid

    Find out what mistakes people often make on their returns, and how to avoid them on yours.
  6. Taxes

    How To File A Tax Extension

    Learn the process you need to follow to grant yourself an extra six months on the deadline for filing your tax return.
  7. Savings

    Explaining Tax Returns

    A tax return is the form or forms used to file income taxes with the IRS.
  8. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  9. Taxes

    7 Tax Terms Explained

    As the tax season begins, there are certain words you need to know. Read on to see what they are.
  10. Taxes

    Tax Tips For First-Time Filers

    Here is a quick rundown on what you need to know if you're filing your taxes for the first time.
RELATED TERMS
  1. 1040A Form

    A simplified version of the 1040 form for individual income tax. ...
  2. 1040EZ Form

    The 1040EZ is an alternative to the Internal Revenue Service's ...
  3. Total Tax

    The composite total of all taxes that is owed by a taxpayer for ...
  4. Single Filer

    The filing status used by a taxpayer who is unmarried and does ...
  5. IRS Form 4868

    An IRS form that must be submitted by individuals who wish to ...
  6. IRS Publication 501

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service that covers ...
Trading Center