Form 1040A (the short form)
Most taxpayers qualify to use Form 1040A, often called the "short form." This form allows you to claim the most common adjustments to income.
Your total income is under $100,000
Any age, any filing status
You have income from wages, interest, dividends, capital gain distributions, IRA or pension distributions, unemployment compensation, or Social Security benefits
You can claim the following adjustments to income: penalty for early withdrawal of savings, IRA contributions, student loan interest, and jury duty pay given to your employer
You can claim the following tax credits: Child and dependent care credit, Credit for the elderly and disabled, Education credits, Retirement savings contributions credit, Child tax credit, and Earned income credit.
You cannot use Form 1040A if you want to itemize your deductions. Most taxpayers qualify to use Form 1040A, so you might want to begin with this tax form. But just to be sure, look over all the types of income and deductions found on the longer Form 1040.
Form 1040 (the long form)
Any taxpayer can use Form 1040. Even though it takes longer to fill out, Form 1040 can handle any tax situation no matter how complex. You must use Form 1040 if:
- You have income of $100,000 or more
- You are itemizing your deductions (such as mortgage interest or charity)
- You have income from a rental, business, farm, S-corporation, partnership, or trust
- You have foreign wages, paid foreign taxes, or are claiming tax treaty benefits
- You sold stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or property
- You are claiming adjustments to income for educator expenses, tuition and fees, moving expenses, or health savings accounts.