What is tax form 1040?

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

 

Did you know that there are many different types of individual income tax return forms? You must use the tax form that corresponds with your particular situation and allows you to claim the income, deductions, credits, etc. that apply to you.

The most common types of income tax returns include the following:

  • Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) (a.k.a. “the long form)
  • Form 1040A (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) (a.k.a. “the short form)
  • Form 1040EZ (Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents)
  • Form 1040NR (U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return)
  • Form 1040NR-EZ (U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents)

IRS Tax Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return)

Form 1040 is the standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s gross income (e.g., money, goods, property, and services). It is also known as “the long form” because it is more extensive than the shorter 1040A and 1040EZ Tax Forms. Also unlike the other tax forms, IRS Form 1040 allows taxpayers to claim numerous expenses and tax credits, itemize deductions, and adjust income. While the 1040 may take longer to complete, it benefits taxpayers by giving them more opportunities to lower their tax bills.

The 1040 Form is generally due by April 15th, unless you apply for an automatic tax extension. If you do not file by this date, you will be subject to penalties and/or late fees. You can request a tax extension by submitting IRS Tax Form 4868 by the original filing deadline (April 15).

There are many different ways to obtain Tax Form 1040. The fastest and most convenient option is to download the tax form on your computer. Additionally, most post offices and local libraries carry tax forms during filing season, and forms can also be picked up from a tax center or an IRS office. In addition, you may request a tax form to be sent to you from the IRS by U.S. Mail.

Before you begin filing your 1040 tax form, make sure you have the following information ready:

  • Proof of identification
  • Filing status and Residency status
  • Social Security Numbers for you (plus your spouse and any dependents)
  • Dates of birth for you (and your spouse, plus any dependents)
  • A copy of your past tax return
  • Statements of wages earned (e.g., W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, etc.)
  • Statements of interest/dividends from banks, brokerages, etc.
  • Proof of any tax credits, tax deductions, or tax exclusions
  • Your bank account number and routing number (for Direct Deposit)

Remember that IRS Tax Form 1040, with payment, is due by April 15th. A 6-month tax extension may be granted (with IRS Tax Form 4868) for late filing, but payments must still be made by April 15th. You may file Form 1040 by paper mail, by using IRS e-file, or through an approved tax preparer.

Filing taxes online is generally safer, faster, and easier ― and you will get your tax refund much sooner if you choose the Direct Deposit option. While there are several tax forms to choose from when filing your federal income taxes, a safe bet is to use IRS Form 1040 if you are unsure whether or not you qualify for the 1040A or 1040EZ.

The basic rule is: When in doubt, file Tax Form 1040.

Click HERE to begin filing your 1040 form online.

You must file Form 1040 if any of the following apply:

  • You have taxable income of $100,000 or more
  • You have self-employment income of $400 or more
  • You had income tax withheld from paychecks
  • You made estimated tax payments, or have overpayment that applies to the current tax year
  • You have itemized deductions (e.g., mortgage, interest, or charity)
  • You earn income from a business, S-corporation, partnership, trust, rental, or farm
  • You have sold property, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds
  • You are claiming income adjustments (for tuition, educator expenses, moving expenses, or health savings accounts)
  • You received an advance payment for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from an employer
  • You have a W-2 that shows uncollected tax (from tips or group term life insurance), or a W-2 that shows a code Z (income earned from a 409A non-qualified deferred compensation plan)
  • You owe excise tax on insider stock compensation (from an expatriated corporation)
  • You are a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case (filed after October 16, 2005)
  • You earn foreign wages, paid foreign taxes, or are claiming tax treaty benefits
  • You owe any other special taxes (e.g., alternative minimum tax, household employment tax, recapture taxes, etc.)