DEFINITION of IRS Publication 17

IRS Publication 17 is a document published by the Internal Revenue Service that outlines the rules governing the filing of federal individual income tax returns.

BREAKING DOWN IRS Publication 17

In Publication 17, which is updated annually, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) outlines who must file a federal individual income tax return, the forms taxpayers must use when filling out the return, how many exemptions they can take, when the return is due, and how to file the return itself. The publication helps taxpayers identify their filing status, whether they can claim dependents, what type of deductions are available and what credits are available to reduce tax obligations.

The document covers a broad set of topics, most of which are explained in further detail in other IRS publications. Examples include the the treatment of mortgage interest expense, sales of property, dividend income, casualty and theft losses, and tuition expenses.

Publication 17 does not cover business taxes for the self-employed, which are covered in Publication 334 (Tax Guide for Small Business), Publication 535 (Business Expenses) and Publication 587 (Business Use of Your Home). 

IRS Publication 17 can be accessed here.