Federal Income Tax Form 1040 

Tax Form 1040 Essentials / Preparing Tax Form 1040

Everyone can use the Form 1040 to report their income, to claim various deductions and credits, and to calculate their tax. However, some individuals may benefit be able to use the shorter Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040A, which can help reduce the amount of time you spend preparing your tax return.

For many people, preparing Form 1040 for tax year 2008 will be similar to last year's tax return. However, there are several important changes in the tax law affecting many in America. Here's some highlights.

Choosing the right tax form

Form 1040EZ (the shortest tax form)

ou can use Form 1040EZ, the shortest and easiest federal tax form, if:
Your total income is under $100,000
Your interest income is under $1,500
You have income only from wages, interest, unemployment compensation, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
You and your spouse are under 65 years old
Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
You do not have any adjustments to income
You are claiming only the standard deduction
You may claim the Earned Income Credit
You are not claiming any other tax credits.

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.
If you have any doubt whatsoever, please use Form 1040. You can never go wrong by using this tax form.

1040 NR, 1040-X



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