Which Tax Form Do I Fill Out?

Figuring out the correct forms for your tax return can be extremely stressful and confusing, especially when it is your first time attempting it. Even though you may opted to purchase online tax preparation software, choosing the wrong form for your federal tax returns can cause your paperwork to be rejected. There are three general tax forms to choose from, and there may be additional schedules to complete.

Form 1040EZ

  • Simplest tax form to complete
  • Form does not allow for itemized deductions or tax credit adjustments
  • Should be used by individuals or married couples filing jointly with a combined income below $100,000
  • Filers should have no children or dependents to claim
  • 1040EZ can be used for individual or joint return filers under the age of 65 as of January 1, 2009, and not blind at the end of 2008
  • Your income does not include over $1,500 worth of taxable interest and your qualified earnings are simply based on “…wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, qualified state tuition program earnings, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.”
  • You did not file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after October 16,2005
  • No alternative minimum tax is owed
  • No advanced earned income credit payments were received
  • No taxes were paid to household staff
  • No education deductions are being claimed in the form of student loan interest, tuition, fees or educator expenses

Form 1040A

  • Must not qualify to use the 1040EZ
  • No itemized deductions
  • Only credits that can be claimed: “…credit for child and dependent care expenses, the earned income credit, the credit for the elderly or the disabled, education credits, the child tax credit, the additional child tax credit, and the retirement savings contribution credit.”
  • Taxable income does not exceed $100,000
  • Derived income came solely from “…wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarships and fellowship grants, interest, or ordinary dividends, capital gain distributions, pensions, annuities, IRAs, unemployment compensation, taxable social security or railroad retirement benefits, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.”
  • Only make income adjustments based on “…IRA deduction, the student loan interest deduction, the educator expenses deduction, and the tuition and fees deduction.”

Form 1040

  • This is the most complicated and longest of the tax forms, and if ever you are unclear on which form to use, 1040 is the standby
  • For those individuals or joint tax return filers that earn over $100,000
  • Taxes are owed on household staff wages
  • Itemized deductions, tax credits or adjustments will be claimed
  • Income was earned on such items as “…unreported tips, certain nontaxable distributions, self–employment earnings, or income received as a partner, a shareholder in an “S” Corporation, or a beneficiary of an estate or trust.”
  • Additional forms called “Schedules” may be required to “…itemize deductions, dividend and interest income, capital gain and losses, and other financial events.”

The variety of schedules change annually and only by being aware of the 2009 tax code changes will you know which ones may apply to you.