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 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. What is IRS Form W-2 used for?

    Any employer who pays an employee $600 or more for the year, including noncash forms of remuneration, must file a form W-2 ... Read Answer >>
  4. 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. Personal Finance

    The Ultimate Tax-Time Checklist

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

    How To Get The Most Money Back On Your Tax Return

    These tips will help you get a larger refund this year, while teaching you how to pay less taxes going forward.
  3. Retirement

    Top Tax Tips For Retirees

    Filing your taxes during retirement can be just as time consuming as when you were employed. We have some tips to help you out.
  4. Taxes

    Next Season, File Taxes On Your Own

    Master these fundamentals and you'll be doing your own taxes with minimal stress.
  5. Taxes

    What's IRS Form 1040 For?

    Most U.S. taxpayers will be familiar with the 1040. By the end of filling it out, you'll know how much tax you owe, or what your refund is.
  6. 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.
  7. Taxes

    Top Tax Advantages of Buying a Home

    Don't forget these deductions and credits that homeowners can use to reduce their tax bill.
  8. Taxes

    How To Get The Most Money Back On Your Tax Return

    Many people pay more taxes than they have to simply because they don’t know better. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of your tax return.
  9. Taxes

    Cut Your Tax Bill

    Paying your bills early or giving an extra donation now can help you come tax time.
  10. Taxes

    5 Little-Known Tax Deductions And Credits

    Declaring noncash donations and volunteer work expenditures are just some of the lesser-known ways to reduce your taxes.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Total Tax

    The composite total of all taxes that is owed by a taxpayer for ...
  2. Taxable Income

    Taxable income is described as gross income or adjusted gross ...
  3. Deduction

    Any item or expenditure subtracted from gross income to reduce ...
  4. Schedule A

    Schedule A is a U.S. income tax form that is used by taxpayers ...
  5. Child And Dependent Care Credit

    A non-refundable tax credit for unreimbursed childcare expenses ...
  6. Single Filer

    The filing status used by a taxpayer who is unmarried and does ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Free Carrier - FCA

    A trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods to a named airport, terminal, or other place where the carrier operates. ...
  2. Portable Alpha

    A strategy in which portfolio managers separate alpha from beta by investing in securities that differ from the market index ...
  3. Run Rate

    1. How the financial performance of a company would look if you were to extrapolate current results out over a certain period ...
  4. Hard Fork

    A hard fork (or sometimes hardfork) is a radical change to the protocol that makes previously invalid blocks/transactions ...
  5. Interest Rate Risk

    The risk that an investment's value will change due to a change in the absolute level of interest rates, in the spread between ...
  6. Ethereum

    Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built ...
Trading Center