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Your Personal Income Tax Return Starts With the 1040 Form

Your Personal Income Tax Return Starts With the 1040 Form

There are a lot of these form 1040 pages! However, it’s the main form for everyone’s tax return, from Bond villains to Disney princesses.

Form 1040 is the flagship form of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is used to report an individual’s income and calculate their federal income taxes. This form is used by all citizens and permanent residents who are required to file a tax return each year.

Form 1040 consists of several schedules, such as Schedule E for rental income or Schedule 2 for additional taxes. Depending on your type of income, you may need to complete certain schedules when filing your 1040. Additionally, itemized deductions and adjustments to income can be reported on Form 1040.

Whether you file a digital or paper return, the filing deadline for individual tax returns usually falls on April 15 each year. However, if you are unable to file by this date, you may be able to request an extension or file an amended return later in the year.

All the Types of U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Forms

Ordinarily, you would have to file additional forms for your particular tax situation and allows you to claim the income, standard deductions, credits, etc. that apply to you.

Did you know that there are many different types of individual income tax return forms?

The most common types of income tax return forms 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)

READ MORE: Which Tax Form To File Now That 1040A & 1040EZ Are No Longer Used?

The U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Form Everyone Knows: IRS Tax Form 1040

Form 1040 is the standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s gross taxable income (e.g., money, goods, property, and services) as well as the additional schedules for deductions beyond the standard deduction. It is also known as “the long form” because it is more extensive than the shorter 1040A and 1040EZ Tax Forms. Most tax forms focus on a single deduction or tax credit or income source. IRS Form 1040 lets individual taxpayers to claim expenses and tax credits, report nontaxable and taxable income, itemize deductions, and even report capital gains taxes all on the same form. While the U.S. individual income tax return form may take longer to complete, it’s your main

The 1040 Form is generally due by April 15, unless you apply for an automatic tax extension. If you do not file your personal income tax return 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. 

What Paper Forms and Information Do You Need for a 1040? 

Before you begin filing your annual income tax return, make sure you have the following information ready:

  • Proof of identification
  • Filing status and Residency status
  • Social Security Numbers for you (plus the social security numbers for 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’s routing and account numbers.

Remember that annual tax return, with payment, is due by April 15th. The Internal Revenue Service may grant a 6-month tax extension for your federal income tax return (with IRS Tax Form 4868) for late filing, but payments must still be made by April 15. You may file your federal tax forms by paper mail, by using IRS e-file, or through an approved tax preparer. Paper filing is always the slowest for getting any federal refund or notice to the IRS. 

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 with your federal tax return 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 capital gain distributions from stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or from selling property
  • 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 form 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 taxes on insider stock compensation
  • You are a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case (filed after October 16, 2005)
  • You earn additional income foreign wages, paid foreign taxes, or are claiming tax treaty benefits
  • You owe any other special taxes (e.g., alternative minimum tax, household employment taxes, recapture taxes, etc.)




Social Security and Other Retirement Benefits

When completing Form 1040, it’s important to report all Social Security benefits that you received during the year. This income is reported on the “Social Security Benefits” line of Form 1040 and must be included when calculating your total taxable income. If you receive railroad retirement benefits, those should also be reported at the same time.

Other Types of Taxable Income from Sources Including Business Income

There are many other types of income that must be reported on Form 1040. This includes any wages, salaries, or tips earned during the year. Any commissions, bonuses, or other forms of compensation should also be included. Self-employment income from freelancing or running a business must also be reported, as well as any interest or dividends earned from investments. If you received any royalties for the use of property such as copyrights or patents, then these amounts should also be reported. Finally, rental income should also be included if you own rental properties and receive payment for them.

Deductions & Credits Applicable to Form 1040

Deductions and credits can be used to reduce your taxable income when filing Form 1040. Common deductions include charitable contributions, student loan interest, health savings account contributions, and self-employment expenses. Additionally, you may qualify for certain tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. The rules for these deductions and credits vary from year to year, so it is important to stay up-to-date with relevant IRS publications. 

Standard Deduction vs. Itemized Deductions

Standard deductions and itemized deductions are two types of deductions available to taxpayers when filing Form 1040. The standard deduction is a fixed amount set by the IRS and generally applies to most taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions. On the other hand, itemizing allows taxpayers to deduct certain expenses that exceed the threshold established by the IRS. Common expenses that can be deducted include medical costs, state taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. 


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