What Is Form 1040?

If you are an individual earning or receiving income, you likely file an annual income tax return, like Form 1040. What is Form 1040?

What is IRS Form 1040?

IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is a form taxpayers use to file annual income tax returns. The form is broken down into sections where you can report income and deductions. Form 1040 determines how much tax you owe or the refund you can expect to receive.

You can report all types of income, expenses, and credits on Form 1040. As of 2018, individuals can not use other individual tax forms, such as Form 1040EZ and 1040A to file tax returns.

You must file tax return Form 1040 if you receive the following types of income:

  • Regular employee income
  • Self-employment income
  • Unreported tips
  • Income received as a partner in a partnership
  • Income received as a shareholder in an S-Corp
  • Beneficiary income of an estate or trust
  • Distributions
  • Retirement account funds or other contributions (e.g., types of IRA plans)
  • Insurance policy dividends
  • Interest received

Depending on the type of income you report, you may need to attach other forms or schedules with Form 1040. For example, if you are a sole proprietor, you must attach Schedule C to Form 1040. Review the IRS website for more information on schedules and other Form 1040 requirements.

Determining to file Form 1040

Most people who earn income must file a federal income tax return. You need to file a tax return if any of the following is true:

  • Your gross income was over $10,000 as a single filer
  • Your gross income was over $20,000 as a married couple filing jointly
  • You earned over $400 from being self-employed
  • You sold your home during the tax year
  • You owe taxes because of your retirement account (e.g., distributions or contributions)
  • You owe Social Security or Medicare taxes on unreported tips or other wages

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Filling out Form 1040

The first section of Form 1040 requires you to enter all sources of income from the tax year. Income sources include wages and salaries, tips, interest, dividends, taxable refunds, taxable alimony, business income, unemployment, retirement distributions, and Social Security benefits. You can also list items under “other income” if the income you receive does not fit into one of the other categories.

On Form 1040, calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is your gross income minus deductions. The IRS allows you to claim deductions or adjustments to get your AGI (e.g., alimony payments).

If eligible for any tax credits, reduce the amount of taxes you owe by each credit before completing Form 1040.

To calculate the amount of taxes you owe, refer to the tax tables on Form 1040. Calculate AGI, include deductions and credits, and prepare your return. After, you can complete your form, file, and pay (if applicable) your federal income tax return.

File Form 1040 online or mail it to the IRS. Be sure to include any income tax money owed. Contact the IRS for more information about filing federal Form 1040.

Form 1040 deadline and extensions

The deadline to file and pay individual tax returns is April 15. However, if the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the filing deadline moves to the next business day.

For example, if April 15 falls on a Sunday, the deadline is the next business day, Monday, April 16.

You can request an automatic tax extension by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. An extension gives you an additional six months to file your income tax return. However, if you owe money, your tax payment is still due April 15.

If you can’t pay taxes on time, consider applying for a payment plan or an IRS installment agreement.

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This article has been updated from its original publication date of February 7, 2019.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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