What is IRS Form 1040?

All You Need to Know About This Federal Tax Form

The Lowdown on the 1040 IRS Tax Form

The IRS Form 1040 is what is used when filing annual income taxes. It contains multiple sections in which the taxpayer discloses their annual taxable income in order to determine whether the taxpayer owes more or whether they are owed a refund by the government.

US Tax Form 1040 in tablet with calculator and pen

Another common name for this is the individual income tax form. Usually, it must be filed no later than April 15th each year. If you make above a certain income threshold, you must file your income return.

What Does It Look Like?

The IRS Form 1040 is two pages long, black and white with the words “1040 Individual Income Tax Return” as the title. It looks like an official, do-it-yourself, worksheet.

Basic info partBeneath that is the section for basic information about the person filing. Here, you fill out your name, address, social security number, and spousal information if filing a joint claim.

Claim statusUnder this, you mark your claim status. This will be determined on your marital status and whether or not you have dependents.

exemptionsFollowing that is a section for exemptions, including your spouse or dependents such as children.

Claiming your incomeOnce you claim your dependents, you begin to claim your income. Here, the worksheet helps you add up all sources of income from the year.

Adjusted gross income partBeneath the income portion is a section for your adjusted gross income after taking other factors into account. These factors include moving expenses, education expenses, alimony, health insurance, and so much more.

Determining your taxes & creditsLines 38 through 56 are for determining your taxes and credits.

self-employed taxes & IRAsAfter that, lines 57 through 63 are for other things like self-employed taxes, additional IRAs, and first-time homebuyer credits.

Payments sectionAfter that, you calculate how much you have already paid out in the Payments section.

Refunds section

The last worksheet section is refunds, where you calculate everything you’ve input already to determine whether or not you will receive a refund.

Your signature hereAt the very end, you will see a section to sign off on everything and finish up.

What Is It Used For?

The worksheet is designed to track how much income you made in a year, any exemptions or deductions to that income, and thus determine how much of a refund you will get or how much money you still owe.

Determining how much exemptions or deductions

In the first page, you are calculating your adjusted gross income. This adjusted income number is created based on your wages or salary, any tips, dividends, interest, taxable refunds, alimony, capital gains, pension or IRA distributions, unemployment income, farm income, and benefits from Social Security.

Then, from your total income, you can take certain deductions to get your accurate AGI.

Some allowable adjustments include:
  • Half of self-employment payments
  • Any alimony payments made
  • Contributions to your IRA
  •  Student loan interest
  • Health savings plan interest

These are just a few of the possible deductions – there are many more that you could qualify for depending on your situation and filing status.

After determining the AGI, the second page allows for further reduction with either standard deductions or itemized deductions. Some examples of itemized deductions include:
  • Mortgage interest
  • Charitable donations
  • Excess medical expenses
  • State/local income and sales tax

If all of the itemized deductions added together do not exceed what the standard deduction is for your particular filing status, the income usually then becomes lower if using the standardized income.

If using a filing service like TurboTax, they do this math for you and will recommend either the standard deduction or itemization of all your deductions in order to give you the most savings and highest refund possible.

After this, you get to calculate what you owe on your final income. This is done by referencing the tables in the worksheet. One great thing about using a service is that this will automatically be done for you at the end.

Comparing your withholding to your bill

Then, you compare your withholding to your bill and you’ll be able to tell whether you owe an additional payment or whether to expect a refund.

Where to Get It?

There are four main ways to obtain a copy of the IRS Form 1040. You can determine which method will be easiest for you from the list below.

Getting Form 1040 by phone
Over the phone

You can get it by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM. The line is open from 7am to 7pm local time, Mondays through Fridays. On this line, you can order the current year or prior years’ worksheets to be sent to you.

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
At IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers

These centers located all across the country will have all the documents you may need on hand.

community locations
In the community

During tax season, you can often find these at libraries or post offices. They may also be available elsewhere in your community.

Getting Form 1040 online

You can get your IRS forms on the internet whenever you need them. You can easily download, print, and fill out anything needed. You can often find access even earlier online than you can anywhere else.

Now that you know everything necessary about this important part of being a taxpayer, download your IRS 1040 form today to get a head start on your annual taxes.

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