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?

  1. Are Cafeteria plans taxable?

    Whether the benefits you receive through your employer-sponsored cafeteria plan are taxable depends entirely on which benefits ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why is the Cayman Islands considered a tax haven?

    The Cayman Islands is one of the most well-known tax havens in the world. Unlike most countries, the Cayman Islands does ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why is Panama considered a tax haven?

    The Republic of Panama is considered one of the most well-established pure tax havens in the Caribbean due to extensive legislation ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I get out of my annuity and transfer to a new one?

    If you decide your current annuity is not for you, there is nothing stopping you from transferring your investment to a new ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are Cafeteria plans exempt from Social Security?

    Typically, qualified benefits offered through cafeteria plans are exempt from Social Security taxes. However, certain types ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Why is Andorra considered a tax haven?

    Andorra is one of many locations around the globe considered a tax haven because of its relatively lenient tax laws. However, ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    How to Navigate Taxable Mutual Fund Distributions

    It's almost time for year-end capital gains distributions for mutual funds. Here's how to monitor them and minimize their tax impact.
  2. Taxes

    The Top 10 Caribbean Tax Havens

    Discover relevant tax policy information about the top 10 tax havens located in the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
  3. Investing

    How ETFs May Save You Thousands

    Being vigilant about the amount you pay and what you get for is important, but adding ETFs into the investment mix fits well with a value-seeking nature.
  4. Professionals

    How to Protect Your Portfolio from a Market Crash

    Although market crashes are usually bad news for your portfolio, there are several ways to minimize losses or even profit outright from market movement.
  5. Retirement

    How Are 401(k) Withdrawals Taxed for Nonresidents?

    As a U.S. nonresident, deciding what to do with your 401(k) after you return home comes down to which tax penalties, if any, you're willing to incur.
  6. Taxes

    Here's How to Deduct Your Stock Losses From Your Tax Bill

    Learn the proper procedure for deducting stock investing losses, and get some tips on how to strategically take losses to lower your income tax bill.
  7. Economics

    Explaining Corporate Tax

    A corporate tax is a tax levied on the profits a corporation generates.
  8. Taxes

    The 5 Countries Without Income Taxes

    Discover information on some of the best countries to consider relocating to that offer the financial benefit of charging no income tax.
  9. Professionals

    Tax Efficient Strategies for Mutual Funds

    Before you sell mutual fund shares, consider these tax strategies first.
  10. Retirement

    How Much Can You Contribute to Your 401(k)?

    Given the fairly high compensation limits on these retirement plans, most workers can pitch in more than they currently do.
  1. 1040EZ Form

    The 1040EZ is an alternative to the Internal Revenue Service's ...
  2. 1040A Form

    A simplified version of the 1040 form for individual income tax. ...
  3. 1040 Form

    The standard Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form that individuals ...
  4. 1040PC Form

    An income tax return that is prepared by computer in a three ...
  5. Form 1040X

    A form used by taxpayers who have to amend their tax returns ...
  6. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!