Which Form 1040 is Right for Filing Your Income Tax Return

Form 1040 is the primary form provided by the IRS for individuals to use in filing their federal income tax return.  However, Form 1040 comes in three different flavors: 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040.

Which of these three version of the form is right for you?  Read on to learn the requirements for using each form.

Form 1040EZ

Form 1040EZ, as the name implies, is the easiest version of Form 1040 that taxpayers can use.  Form 1040EZ also has the strictest requirements concerning who can use it.  In summary, a taxpayer’s income taxes must be simple in order to use Form 1040EZ, as this form does not provide the necessary fields to capture information about more complicated tax situations.

The requirements for a taxpayer to use Form 1040EZ include the following:

  • Use a filing status of single or married filing jointly, not head of household or married filing separately
  • Claim no dependents
  • Taxpayer and taxpayer’s spouse under the age of 65 and not blind
  • Taxable income under $100,000 and stems only from wages, salaries, tips, scholarships, grants, unemployment, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
  • No use of itemized deductions
  • Income from taxable interest no more than $1,500
  • No household employment tax owed
  • Have not filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
  • No adjustments to income
  • No credits other than earned income credit

Form 1040A

For taxpayers who do not qualify to use Form 1040EZ, the IRS offers Form 1040A.

The requirements for a taxpayer to use Form 1040A include the following:

  • Taxable income under $100,000 and stems only from wages, salaries, tips, scholarships, grants, interest, ordinary dividends, capital gains, pensions, annuities, IRAs, unemployment, social security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
  •  No use of itemized deductions
  • No alternative minimum tax on stocks from an incentive stock plan
  • Taxes stem only from tax table, the alternative minimum tax, education credit recapture, Form 8615, dividends, or capital gains
  • Only adjustments to income include IRA deduction, interest for student loans, and education, tuition, and fee expenses
  • Only credits include child and dependent care expenses, earned income, elderly, disabled, child tax, and retirement savings credits

Form 1040

For taxpayers who do not qualify to use Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, the IRS offers Form 1040.  There are no qualifications to use Form 1040, as it is simply the form available to taxpayers who do not qualify for using the simpler forms.

A taxpayer must use Form 1040 if any of the following are true:

  • Taxable income of $100,000 or more
  • Taxable income includes unreported tips, nontaxable distributions, earnings from self-employment, partner or S corporation shareholder income, or estate or trust benefits
  • Owe household employment tax
  • Use itemized deductions
  • Claim certain tax credit or other adjustments

Tax Attorney Assistance

You can get help completing your federal income tax return or answers to any of your other tax questions by speaking with a tax attorney.  A tax attorney has the legal training to know the tax law and how to apply it to your individual tax situation.

If you need help, you can start by completing the form on this page or calling the above telephone number.  A tax attorney will contact you, free of charge for the initial conversation and with no further obligation.  Therefore, please get the help you need by taking the first step today.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.