IRS 1040 Tax Return Series
The 1040 tax return series includes more forms than the 1040, 1040EZ and 1040A, but these three are generally the go-to returns for most taxpayers. You could think of the Form 1040A (also called the “short form”) as hitting a happy tax-return medium between the IRS 1040EZ form and the 1040 form. Even shorter than the 1040A, the 1040EZ is the simplest form, and the 1040 form – also called the “long form” – is a bit more labor-intensive to complete. The tipping point of income for these three forms is $100,000. If you make less than $100,000, you can choose between the 1040EZ or the 1040A, and if you make more than $100,000, the long-form 1040 will likely be your return of choice.
If you’re deciding between the 1040EZ and the 1040A, dependents and deductions partly determine your choice, although there are also other considerations. To use the 1040EZ, you can’t claim any dependents and you’ll have to take the standard deduction instead of itemizing your deductions. To use the 1040A, you’ll also have to take the standard deduction, but you’ll be able to claim dependents.
New Form 1040A
Beginning with tax year 2018 (for returns filed in 2019), most taxpayers won’t have to figure out which 1040 form to use. The IRS is rolling out its new streamlined 1040, which offers a three-in-one version of the current 1040, 1040EZ and 1040A forms. Because this new form consolidates the instructions for all three forms, the current instructions for the 1040A may also be formatted differently.
Standard Vs. Itemized Deductions
Deductions are allowable expenses that you claim on your income tax return. By subtracting these deductions from your gross income, you reduce your taxable income and, therefore, also reduce the tax you owe. Taxpayers have the option of claiming the standard deduction, which varies depending on filing status, or itemizing deductions, which vary according to each taxpayer’s specific financial situation.
Since you can only claim one type of deduction, choose the one that results in the lowest tax liability.
If you file your income tax return with the 1040A, you can only claim the standard deduction. For the 2018 tax year, taxpayers who file single or married filing separately have a standard deduction of $12,000. Head of household filers have a standard deduction of $18,000, and married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) take the standard deduction of $24,000. Elderly and blind taxpayers can take an additional standard deduction of $1,300, which increases to $1,600 if they are also unmarried.