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The Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is the starting form for personal (individual) Federal income tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States.
Income tax returns for individual calendar year taxpayers are due by April 15 of the next year.
Form 1040 consists of two full pages not counting attachments. The first page collects information about the taxpayer(s), dependents, income items, and adjustments to income. The second page calculates the allowable deductions and credits, tax due given the income figure, and applies funds already withheld from wages or estimated payments made towards the tax liability.
Form 1040 has 11 attachments, called “schedules”, which may need to be filed depending on the taxpayer.
- Schedule A itemizes allowable deductions against income; instead of filling out Schedule A, taxpayers may choose to take a standard deduction of between $5,700 and $15,800 (for tax year 2010), depending on age, filing status, and whether the taxpayer and/or spouse is blind.
- Schedule B enumerates interest and/or dividend income, and is required if either interest or dividends received during the tax year exceed $1,500 from all sources or if the filer had certain foreign accounts.
- Schedule C lists income and expenses related to self-employment, and is used by sole proprietors.
Schedule D is used to describe capital gains and losses incurred during the tax year, and to calculate the tax amount due given the special reduced tax rates applied to capital gains and qualified (domestic) dividends.
- Schedule E is used to report income and expenses arising from the rental of real property, royalties, or from pass-through entities (like trusts, estates, partnerships, or S corporations).
- Schedule EIC is used to document a taxpayer’s eligibility for the Earned Income Credit.
Schedule F is used to report income and expenses related to farming.
- Schedule H is used to report taxes owed due to the employment of household help.
- Schedule J is used when averaging farm income over a period of three years.
- Schedule L is used to figure an increased standard deduction in certain cases.
- Schedule M (2009 and 2010) is used to claim the up to $400 Making Work Pay tax credit (6.2% earned income credit, up to $400).
- Schedule R is used to calculate the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
- Schedule SE is used to calculate the self-employment tax owed on income from self-employment (such as on a Schedule C or Schedule F, or in a partnership).
The 1040A (“short form”) is a shorter version of the Form 1040 U.S. individual income tax return. Use of Form 1040A is limited to taxpayers with taxable income below $100,000 who take the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions.
A taxpayer who uses the 1040A tax return can only have income from the following sources:
- Wages, salaries, and tips.
- Interest and ordinary dividends.
- Capital gains distributions.
- Taxable scholarships and fellowship grants.
- Pensions, annuities, and IRAs.
- Unemployment compensation.
- Taxable social security and railroad retirement benefits.
- Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.
The Form 1040EZ (“easy form”), Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents, is a simplified, six-section Federal income tax return, issued by the United States’ Internal Revenue Service. Its use is limited to taxpayers with taxable income below $100,000 (as of tax year 2011) who take the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions.
Other restrictions include:
- Filing status must be single or married filing jointly.
- Filer must be under age 65 and not blind at the end of the tax year.
- Filers must not claim any dependents (other than themselves).
- No adjustments to income can be claimed.
- The only credit that can be claimed is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
- The only income to report for the tax year consisted of wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship or fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and filer’s taxable interest was not over $1,500. But if the filer earned tips, including allocated tips, that are not included in box 5 and box 7 of your Form W-2, filer may not be able to use Form 1040EZ.
- Filer did not receive any advanced EIC payments.
1040NR and 1040NR-EZ
The forms 1040NR and its “easy” version 1040NR-EZ are used by nonresident aliens who have U.S. source income and therefore have to file a U.S. tax return. Joint returns are not permitted, so that husband and wife must each file a separate return. The 1040NR-EZ form can be used under conditions similar to those for the 1040EZ form.
The Amended U.S. Individual Tax Return, commonly known by its number (Form 1040X), is used to make corrections on Form 1040, Form 1040A, and Form 1040EZ tax returns that have been previously filed.
Generally for a tax refund, this form must be filed within 3 years after the date that the original version was filed, or within 2 years after the date that the tax was paid, whichever is later. For a 1040X based on a bad debt or worthless security, it must be filed within 7 years after the due date of the original version. A 1040X that is filed immediately before the due date of the original version is considered “on time”.Corporate Tax Returns
Form 1120 is used by C corporations for tax returns.
Form 1120S is used by S-corporations for tax returns.
Form 4868 is used to request an extension of time to file a federal income tax return for an individual.
Form 1041 is used by estates and trusts for tax returns.
Form 1065 is used by partnerships for tax returns.