Which Tax Forms Should I Use?

In filing your return, there is one among the three choices that you could use: Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A, or Form 1040.

Form 1040EZ

This is probably the simplest of the three forms. This form is used if the following apply to you:

  • Filing status is single or status is married, filing jointly
  • Nonresident alien at any time within the tax year; your filing status must be married filing jointly
  • You (and your spouse if married filing a joint return) were under age 65 and not blind at the end of the tax year
  • You do not claim any dependent
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  • Your income is only from wages, salaries, tips, unemployment compensation, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, and taxable interest of $1,500 or less
  • You did not receive any advance earned income credit (EIC) payments
  • You do not claim any adjustments to income, such as a deduction for IRA contributions or student loan interest
  • You do not claim any credits other than the earned income credit
  • You do not owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee

You must meet all of these requirements to use Form 1040EZ. Otherwise, you must use Form 1040A or Form 1040.

Form 1040A

If you are not qualified to use Form 1040EZ, then you may use Form 1040A. This form is used if the following apply to you:

  • Your income is only from salaries, wages, tips, pensions and annuities, IRA distributions, taxable social security and railroad retirement benefits, ordinary dividends (including Alaska Permanent Fund dividends), interest, capital gain distributions, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, and unemployment compensation
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  • Your adjustments to income are for only the following items:
  1. Educator expenses
  2. IRA deduction
  3. Student loan interest deduction
  4.  Tuition and fees deduction
  1. Tax Table
  2. Advance earned income credit (EIC) payments, if you received any
  3. Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
  4. Alternative minimum tax
  5. Form 8615, Tax for Children Under Age 14 With Investment Income of More Than $1,600
  6. Recapture of an education credit
  • You claim only the following tax credits:
  1. The credit for child and dependent care expenses
  2. The child tax credit
  3.  The credit for the elderly or the disabled
  4.  The additional child tax credit
  5. The education credits
  6. The earned income credit
  7. The retirement savings contributions credit
  8. The adoption credit
  • You did not have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired from the exercise of an incentive stock option

If you do not meet the above requirements, then you must use Form 1040.

Form 1040

This form is for those who are not qualified to use either Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A

If you filed a Form 1040EZ or 1040A the previous year, then you may receive the same form for the current tax year. However, if your circumstances have changed and you no longer qualify to use these forms, then you should use Form 1040. You can use itemized deductions, get adjustments to your income and other credits which you may not be able to get on Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A.

Use Form 1040 if the following apply to you:

  • Your taxable income is $100,000 or more
  • Your Form W-2, box 12, shows uncollected employee tax (social security and Medicare tax) on tips or group-term life insurance
  • Your Form W-2 shows an amount in box 12 with a code Z
  • You itemize your deductions
  • You claim any adjustments to gross income other than the adjustments listed earlier under Form 1040A
  • You had income that cannot be reported on Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, including tax-exempt interest from private activity bonds issued after August 7, 1986
  • You claim any credits other than the credits listed earlier under Form 1040A
  • You received $20 or more in tips in any one month and did not report all of them to your employer
  • You owe the excise tax on insider stock compensation from an expatriated corporation
  • You have to file other forms with your return to report certain exclusions, taxes, or transactions

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