What is Form 1040?
Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form that U.S. taxpayers use to file their income tax returns. It is used to calculate and report gross income and tax liabilities to help an individual determine if he or she owes the government taxes or has a refund.
When to file Form 1040?
The deadline to file Form 1040 is April 15th of every year. In the U.S., the day is called Tax Day. When the deadline falls on a weekday or a holiday, the next business day becomes the new due date.
Do I need to file Form 1040?
To know if you need to file Form 1040, here are the conditions:
Your filing status is...
At the end of 2020, you were...
And your gross income was at least...
65 or older
Married filing jointly
Under 65 (both spouses)
65 or older (one spouse)
65 or older (both spouses)
Married filing separately
Head of household
65 or older
65 or older
If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or freelance, if you received a net earning of at least $400, you need to file Form 1040.
How to fill out Form 1040?
Form 1040 is a two-page tax form. Make sure to compute and provide information accurately to avoid problems with the federal tax agency.
For your convenience, make sure to gather all your tax documents, including your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and applicable 1099 forms.
Answer the following fields:
Check the box to determine your filing status. The options are:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately (MFS) — Also enter the name of your spouse in the entry space provided.
- Head of household (HOH) — Also enter the name of the child in the entry space provided if the qualifying person is a child but not your dependent.
- Qualifying widow(er) (QW) — Also enter the name of the child in the entry space provided if the qualifying person is a child but not your dependent.
Then, provide the applicable information:
- Your full legal name — If filing jointly, also enter the full legal name of your spouse.
- Your social security number — If filing jointly, also enter the social security number of your spouse.
- Home address — If your post office does not deliver mail to your home, use your P.O. box address instead. If you have a foreign address, enter the required information.
If you or your spouse — if filing jointly — wants $3 to go to the Presidential Election Campaign, mark the applicable checkbox.
If at any time during 2020, you received, sold, sent, exchanged, or acquired any financial interest in any virtual currency, mark the appropriate Yes box; otherwise, mark No.
Mark the appropriate box if someone can claim:
- You as a dependent
- Your spouse as a dependent
If you were a dual-status citizen, check the box that says “Spouse itemizes on a separate return or you were a dual-status alien.”
For the Age/Blindness field, mark the applicable boxes to determine your or your spouse’s age or if you or your spouse is blind.
If you have dependents, enter their:
- Full legal names
- Social security numbers
- Relationships to you
Then, mark the applicable box if the dependents qualify for child tax credit or credit for other dependents.
Provide the following information about your income:
Enter your wages, salaries, tips, and other income amounts. Then, attach Form W-2.
Enter tax-exempt interest amount.
Enter taxable interest amount.
Enter qualified dividends amount.
Enter ordinary dividends amount.
Enter IRA distributions amount.
Enter IRA distributions taxable amount.
Enter pension and annuities amount.
Enter pension and annuities taxable amount.
Enter social security benefits amount.
Enter social security benefits taxable amount.
Enter capital gain or loss amount. Then attach Schedule D, if required. Otherwise, mark the box.
Enter other income amounts from Schedule 1, Line 9.
Enter the total income when you add Lines 1, 2b, 3b, 4b, 5b, 6b, 7, and 8.
Enter adjustments to income:
a. From Schedule 1, Line 22
b. Charitable contributions if you take the standard deduction.
c. Total adjustments to income. To get this, add Lines 10a and 10b.
Enter adjusted gross income. To get this, subtract Line 10c from Line 9.
Enter standard deduction or itemized deductions (from Schedule A).
Enter qualified business income deduction amount. Then, attach Form 8995 or Form 8995-A.
Enter the sum of Lines 12 and 13.
Enter the taxable income amount.
Enter tax amount. Then, check if any from Forms 8814, 4972, or another form that you need to specify.
Enter the amount from Schedule 2, Line 3.
Enter the sum of lines 16 and 17.
Enter child tax credit or credit from other dependents amount.
Enter the amount from Schedule 3, Line 7.
Enter the sum of Lines 19 and 20.
Enter the difference when you subtract Line 21 from Line 18. If zero or less, enter 0.
Enter other taxes amount.
Enter the sum of Lines 22 and 23.
Enter federal income tax withheld from:
a. Form(s) W-2
b. Form(s) 1099
c. Other forms
d. Sum of Lines 25a through 25c
Enter 2020 estimated tax payments and amount applied from 2019 return.
Enter earned income credit (EIC) amount.
Enter additional child tax credit amount. Then, attach Schedule 8812.
Enter American opportunity credit from Form 8863, Line 8.
Enter recovery rebate credit amount.
Enter the amount from Schedule 3, Line 13.
Enter the total other payments and refundable credits amount. To get this, add Lines 27 through 31.
Enter total payments amount. To get this, add Lines 25d, 26, and 32.
Enter overpaid amount. This is when Line 33 is more than Line 24. To get the amount, subtract Line 24 from Line 33.
The amount of Line 34 you want to be refunded to you. Mark the box if Form 8888 is attached. Then provide the following:
b. Routing number
c. Type. Mark if Checking or Savings
d. Account number
Enter the amount of Line 34 you want to be applied to your 2021 estimated tax
Amount You Owe
Enter the total amount you owe. To get this, subtract Line 33 from Line 24.
Enter the estimated tax penalty amount.
Third Party Designee
Mark the box if you want to allow another person to discuss your Form 1040 with the IRS. Then, provide the following designee’s information:
- Phone Number
- Personal identification number (PIN)
Provide the following:
- Your signature
- The date you signed the form
- Your occupation
- Your Identity Protection PIN if the IRS sent one
- Your phone number
- Your email address
If filing a joint return, provide the following:
- Your spouse’s signature
- The date your spouse signed the form
- Your spouse’s occupation
- Your spouse’s Protection PIN if the IRS sent one
Paid Preparer Use Only
Provide the following information if you used a preparer:
- Preparer’s name
- Preparer’s signature
- The date the preparer signed the form
- Preparer’s PTIN
- If the preparer is self-employed, mark the box
- Firm’s name
- Firm’s address
- Phone number
- Firm’s EIN
Where to file Form 1040?
The address to send your Form 1040 depends on your location. Refer to the instructions pages of the form to see the list of addresses.
Frequently Asked Questions About Form 1040
Are all 1040 forms the same?
No, 1040 forms are not the same. They vary depending on their purpose.
What are the types of 1040 forms?
There are several 1040 forms, but most 1040 filers use the following:
- Form 1040-EZ — Form 1040-EZ, Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents, is a short 1040 form with limited income reporting.
- Form 1040-A — Form 1040-A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is a 1040 form designed for individual filers with taxable income less than $100,000. The allowable deductions and tax credits may be limited.
- Form 1040-PR — Form 1040-PR, Federal Self-Employment Contribution Statement for Residents of Puerto Rico, is for taxpayers with taxable income from Puerto Rico only. It reports the same items as Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and can be used by U.S. citizens who have moved to Puerto Rico or workers in the U.S. territory who qualify for special tax treatment.
- Form 1040-SR — Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, is used by citizens or residents of the United States who are age 65 or older to file an annual income tax return.
- Form 1040-SS — Form 1040-SS, U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return, is for taxpayers who have self-employment income or social security benefits that are taxable for U.S. federal income tax purposes and meet certain requirements.
- Form 1040X — Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is used to correct Form 1040, Form 1040-A, Form 1040-EZ, Form 1040-NR, or Form 1040NR-EZ. You can also use it to make certain elections after the prescribed deadline, change amounts the Internal Revenue Service previously adjusted, and claim a carryback due to a loss or unused credit.
- Form 1040-NR — Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, is for nonresident alien individuals, including those who have income from a U.S. trade or business.
- Form 1040-V — Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, is a statement that must be sent with your check or money order for any balance due on the “Amount you owe” line on your Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, or Form 1040-NR.
- Form 1040NR-EZ — Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents, is for nonresident alien individuals without dependents, and their only income is their salary and wages. Form 1040NR-EZ does not require the standard deduction or personal exemption. However, it is limited to report salary and wages only.
- Form 1040-ES — Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, calculates total estimated tax on income that is not subject to withholding.
There are also schedules that are used as an extension of specific 1040 forms, such as:
- Schedule 1 (Form 1040), Additional Income and Adjustments to Income
- Schedule 2 (Form 1040), Additional Taxes
- Schedule 3 (Form 1040), Additional Credits and Payments
- Schedule 4 (Form 1040), Other Taxes
- Schedule 5 (Form 1040), Other Payments and Refundable Credits
- Schedule 6 (Form 1040), Foreign Address and Third Party Designee
- Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions
- Schedule B (Form 1040), Interest and Ordinary Dividends
- Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship)
- Schedule D (Form 1040), Capital Gains and Losses
- Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss
- Schedule F (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Farming
- Schedule J (Form 1040), Income Averaging for Farmers and Fisherman
- Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes
- Schedule R (Form 1040), Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled
- Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax
Does everyone have to file Form 1040?
No, not everyone is required to file Form 1040. There is a certain threshold for an individual to file an income tax return. Specifically, you are not required to file Form 1040 if:
- you are single, under age 65, and your gross income is below $12,400;
- you are married, and your and your spouse's joint gross income is below $24,800;
- you are a widow, and your gross income is below $24,800;
- you are the head of your household, and your gross income is below $18,650; or
- you are self-employed, a freelancer, or an independent contractor, and you are receiving a net earning below $400.
However, you may file Form 1040 even if you are not required to do so. In fact, zero tax filers or individuals who file tax returns without income can file Form 1040 to claim refunds or credits from the government.
Another determining factor to know if you need to file Form 1040 is the amount of your standard deductions. You will not have to file Form 1040 if your income is less than your standard deduction.
What is the standard deduction?
The standard deduction is a flat amount usually deducted from your taxable income to reduce your tax. The amount of your standard deduction depends on your type of income, age, filing status, or whether you are disabled or claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's tax return.
The Internal Revenue Service grants taxpayers the standard deduction if they do not itemize their tax deductions using Schedule A (Form 1040).
Does the standard deduction apply to everyone?
The standard deduction applies to individuals earning a salary or pension income. However, not all taxpayers are qualified for the standard deduction. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the following may not take the standard deduction:
- A married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions
- An individual who was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien during the year
- An individual who files a return for a period of less than 12 months due to a change in his or her annual accounting period
- An estate or trust, common trust fund, or partnership
How much is the standard deduction?
The U.S. government sets the amount for the standard deduction for a specific tax year. As of 2021, the standard deduction is:
- $12,550 for single or married taxpayers filing separately
- $25,100 for married taxpayers filing jointly
- $18,800 for taxpayers who are the head of their household
Is Form 1040 the same as Form W-2?
No, Form 1040 is different from Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.
You use Form 1040 to file with the Internal Revenue Service your income tax returns. It serves as the master sheet that contains details from your tax forms or returns. Form W-2, on the other hand, is a document your employer gives you to report your wages and withholding.
To file your Form 1040, you need to gather all your tax returns, including your Form W-2, to determine the information or records you need to input.
What is the difference between 1099 forms and Form 1040?
While there are several types of 1099 forms, all are designed to report your self-employment income or the income you gain outside your salary or wage.
The amount reported on your 1099 forms will be used to determine the amount you need to enter on your Form 1040.
Can I print Form 1040?
Yes, you can print Form 1040 that you downloaded online or from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.
Although, other online IRS forms must not be printed for scanning purposes, such as Copy A of Form W-2 and 1099 forms and other IRS forms printed in red ink.
Why do I need Form 1040?
You need Form 1040 to report your income, calculate the amount of taxes you owe to the federal government, and file your tax return.
If you do not have to file a tax return and do not have to make estimated tax payments, you do not have to file Form 1040.
What is an annual income?
Your annual income is the total amount of money you earned during a year.
To determine if you need to file Form 1040, add your taxable income and all nontaxable income in a year. If the total is within your standard deduction limit, then you do not have to file Form 1040.
What is a taxable income?
A taxable income is an amount that remains after reducing your gross or total income by any adjustments, deductions, exemptions, and tax credits that you qualify for to determine the final sum of money on which you must pay taxes.
Where is the gross annual income located on Form 1040?
To find out your gross annual income on Form 1040, look for line 7.
Is there a short Form 1040?
Yes, Form 1040-EZ is a short Form 1040 with limited income reporting.
Form 1040-EZ can be used by taxpayers who:
- are single or married with no dependents;
- do not claim any deductions, adjustments to income, or tax credits; or
- do not qualify for any other 1040 forms.
Does Form 1040-EZ also require Form 1040?
No, if you are qualified to file Form 1040-EZ, you do not need to complete Form 1040.
Do I have to file taxes if I made less than $5000?
If your income is below $5,000, you do not need to file taxes. However, you may need to file a tax return to claim a refund on taxes you have already paid.
Do 1099 employees file Form 1040?
Yes, 1099 employees file Form 1040 if they have enough income to qualify to file Form 1040. Instead of Form 1040, they may use Schedule C (Form 1040) to report their income. They may also use Schedule SE (Form 1040) if their net earnings from self-employment are $400 or more.
Who are 1099 employees?
1099 employees or workers are independent contractors, freelancers, or self-employed individuals. They are individuals who work for certain employers but are not considered employees. Instead of receiving Form W-2, they receive 1099 forms from their employers as proof of their earnings.
Where is my AGI on my Form 1040?
Your adjusted gross income (AGI) is listed on line 37 of your Form 1040.
Additionally, if you are using:
- Form 1040-EZ, your AGI is on line 4.
- Form 1040-A, your AGI is on line 21.
What is the Adjusted Gross Income?
The Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is your total income minus certain adjustments like contributions to a traditional individual retirement account (IRA), moving expenses, and student loan interests.
What do I mail with my Form 1040?
The documents you need to file with your Form 1040 with the Internal Revenue Service depend on your tax situation. You may need to attach:
Should I attach Form W-2 to Form 1040?
Yes. You may attach Form W-2 to the front of your Form 1040.
How much does a single person have to make to file an income return?
Single or unmarried individuals must file an income return if their gross income is at least $12,400 or $14,050.
You are considered a single filer if:
- you were never married;
- you were legally separated due to divorce or separate maintenance at the end of the tax year; or
- you were widowed before January 1 and did not remarry before the end of the tax year.
Can I file tax returns with no income?
Yes. Although you are not obligated to file tax returns if you have no income, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) encourages you to do so.
Filing tax returns with zero income may have a beneficial effect on your future eligibility for government benefits. You may also get a refund for some federal income tax you paid to the IRS.
Why would you fill out Form 1040 instead of Form 1040-EZ?
Form 1040 is more detailed and comprehensive than Form 1040-EZ. Form 1040 is used by individuals who owe tax, need to report itemized deductions, or have self-employment income. While Form 1040-EZ is only used by those with simple tax situations.
If your tax situation is simple enough, you may use Form 1040-EZ. It has fewer allowances, which means less paperwork and lower taxes.
How do I file Form 1040 with no income?
If you want to file Form 1040 with no income, you may enter "0" on line 7 of your Form 1040. Then, follow the same procedure when filing Form 1040 with income.
Can I file Form 1040 if I own a home?
Yes, homeowners are required to file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR to deduct expenses of owning a home and itemize their deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). They can also claim a deduction for interest on a home mortgage, as well as credit for any real estate taxes they paid.
A home is any structure with sleeping space and toilet and cooking facilities, whether a house, condominium, cooperative apartment, mobile home, houseboat, or house trailer.
Can renters file Form 1040?
Yes, renters can file Schedule E (Form 1040) to report their rental income or loss.
Schedule E (Form 1040) is a document used to report income, losses, expenses, and other information on rental property.
Where do I deduct my mortgage interest on Form 1040?
To deduct your mortgage interest on Form 1040, you need to complete Schedule A (Form 1040) to itemize your deductions.
When filling out Schedule A (Form 1040), you need to include all of your deductible expenses. You may include your home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, medical expenses, real estate taxes, and casualty or theft losses.
If you choose to itemize your deductions, you cannot claim the standard deduction. You may only choose one method to claim deductions.
What are itemized deductions?
Itemized deductions are the list of personal deductions that can be deducted from an individual’s gross income. They reduce the amount of taxable income and are beneficial for those who live in states with high tax rates or have a large amount of self-employment income.
Examples of itemized deductions include:
- Home mortgage interest
- Charitable contributions
- Medical expenses
- State taxes
- Property taxes
By itemizing your deductions, you may claim a larger deduction total than if you chose to claim the standard deduction.
Compared to the standard deduction, itemized deductions allow you to claim a larger deduction total. However, the standard deduction will likely result in paying less in taxes because it is based on your adjusted gross income.
Do capital gains count as income?
Yes, capital gains from the sale of taxable assets are considered part of your gross income. The Internal Revenue Service also taxes them at a special rate. So, when you file Schedule D (Form 1040), Capital Gains and Losses, be sure to include it in your net capital gain to maximize your benefits.
Moreover, short-term capital gains are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income, while long-term capital gains are taxed up to 20%.
What mortgage interest is deductible?
You can deduct all of your home mortgage interests. However, the amount of deduction depends on the mortgage date, amount, and your mortgage proceeds usage.
If you used the home mortgage proceeds to purchase, build, or improve your home, you can deduct all of your mortgage interest.
What can I include in my medical expenses?
You can claim all of your medical expenses as itemized deductions under Schedule A (Form 1040), so you can deduct the cost of surgeries, prescription drugs, and other medical expenses.
Typically, you can claim your medical expenses as itemized deductions if you have unreimbursed expenses that are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).