Which Individual Income Tax Form Can I Use?

There are certain conditions that must be met in order to be able to use one of the simpler forms – either the 1040EZ or the 1040A. These conditions generally refer to filing status, level and source of income, and which tax benefits are being utilized. Form 1040 is the general form that applies to everyone who cannot use the other two forms.

Even if you qualify to use the 1040EZ or 1040A, you can still elect to use the 1040 if you prefer, since this is the general form available to everyone.

Qualifying to Use Form 1040EZ

You can use Form 1040EZ if all of the following apply in your case:

1. Your filing status is single or married filing jointly. If you were a non-resident alien at any time during the year, your filing status must be married filing jointly.

2. You (and your spouse if you are filing jointly) are not over age 65 or blind.

3. You are not claiming any dependents on your tax return.

4. Your taxable income is less than a certain maximum amount, which is published by the Internal Revenue Service each year.

5. Your income is only from certain sources, including the following:
�· Salaries and wages
�· Tips
�· Unemployment compensation
�· Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
�· Taxable scholarships and fellowship grants
�· Taxable interest of up to $1,500

6. You did not receive any advance earned income credit payments during the year.

7. You are not claiming any adjustments to income, such as a deduction for IRA contributions, educator expense deduction, a deduction for student loan interest you paid, or the tuition and fees deduction. These are amounts that are deducted from your gross income to determine your adjusted gross income.

8. You are not claiming any tax credits other than the earned income credit.

9. You do not owe any household employment taxes for persons who work in your home.

Qualifying to Use Form1040A

If you can’t use the 1040EZ, you may be able to use Form 1040A. Form 1040A allows for more types of income, deductions, and credits than Form 1040EZ. The following are the requirements for using 1040A:

1. Your income is only from:
�· Salaries and wages
�· Tips
�· Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
�· Taxable scholarships and fellowship grants
�· Interest (no limit)
�· IRA distributions
�· Pensions and annuities
�· Taxable social security benefits
�· Ordinary dividends
�· Capital gain distributions
�· Unemployment compensation

2. Your taxable income is less than a certain maximum amount, which is published by the Internal Revenue Service each year.

3. You can have adjustments to income, but only for the following items:
�· Educator expenses
�· IRA deduction
�· Student loan interest deduction
�· Tuition and fees deduction

4. You use the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions.

5. Your taxes are determined only on the basis of one or more of the following tax calculation methods:
�· The standard Tax Table in the instructions
Ã?· Alternative minimum tax – a tax calculated on what are referred to as certain tax preference items
�· Advance earned income credit
�· Recapture of an education credit
�· Form 8615, Tax for Children Under Age 14 With Investment Income of More Than $1,500
�· Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet

6. You claim only the following tax credits:
�· Credit for child and dependent care expenses
�· Credit for the elderly or the disabled
�· Child tax credit
�· Additional child tax credit
�· Education credits
�· Retirement savings contributions credit
�· Earned income credit
�· Adoption credit

Who Must Use Form 1040

If you do not qualify to file either the 1040EZ or the 1040A based on the above requirements, you will need to use Form 1040. Generally, you will have to use Form 1040 if any of the following apply in your case:

1. Your taxable income is more than the maximum amount allowed for filing Form 1040EZ or 1040A (published by the IRS each year).

2. You itemize deductions instead of using the standard deduction.

3. You had income that is not included among the types of income that can be reported on 1040EZ or 1040A.

4. You are claiming any adjustments to gross income other than the adjustments listed under Form 1040A.

5. Your Form W-2 shows uncollected employee tax on tips or group-term life insurance.

6. You received $20 or more in tips in any one month and did not report all of them to your employer.

7. You are claiming any credits other than the credits listed under Form 1040A.

8. You have to file other forms with your return to report certain exclusions, taxes, or transactions.

Comparative Summary

The following is a comparative summary of the criteria that must be met in order to file each of the forms described above.

Filing Status: Single or married filing jointly for 1040EZ; any filing status for 1040A and 1040.

Age 65 or older, or blind: No for 1040EZ; OK for 1040A and 1040

Claiming dependents: No for 1040EZ; OK for 1040A and 1040

Taxable income: There is a maximum amount allowable for using 1040EZ and 1040A; no limit for 1040.

Types of income:

�· 1040EZ: Salaries & wages, tips, unemployment compensation, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and taxable scholarships and fellowship grants
�· 1040A: Types of income for 1040EZ plus taxable social security benefits, IRA distributions, pensions and annuities, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions
�· 1040: All types of income

Taxable interest: Up to $1,500 for 1040EZ; no limit for 1040A or 1040

Advance earned income credits received: No for 1040EZ; OK for 1040A and 1040

Adjustments to income:

�· 1040EZ: None allowed
�· 1040A: Educator expenses, IRA deduction, student loan interest deduction, tuition and fees deduction
�· 1040: All adjustments allowed

Standard deduction or itemized deductions: Only the standard deduction is allowed for 1040EZ and 1040A. Either the standard deduction or itemized deductions can be taken on 1040.

Tax calculation:

�· 1040EZ: Only the Tax Table
�· 1040A: Tax Table, alternative minimum tax, advance earned income credit, recapture of an education credit, Form 8615, Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
�· 1040: All tax calculations

Tax credits:

�· 1040EZ: Earned income credit only
�· 1040A: Credit for child and dependent care expenses, credit for the elderly or the disabled, child tax credit, additional child tax credit, education credits, retirement savings contributions credit, earned income credit, and adoption credit
�· 1040: All tax credits

Household employment taxes: No for 1040EZ; OK for 1040A and 1040


In general terms, you should use the form that is the easiest to prepare, and for which you qualify. But you should not sacrifice any tax benefits, such as adjustments to income, itemized deductions or tax credits in order to use a simpler form. In this case, it is better to use Form 1040 and take advantage of all the tax benefits to which you are entitled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 + five =