1040EZ or 1040A: What’s the difference?

When it comes time to file your taxes, it can feel like there are an endless amount of forms, options, and different qualifiers. How do you know what forms you should fill out?

The main form filers use is called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Anyone is eligible to file Form 1040, however, it is the most complex. Fortunately, for individuals who have a simple tax situation, there are two variations of Form 1040 – Form 1040EZ and Form 1040A. If you are required to file taxes, you will use one of these three forms.

Here is everything you need to know about the different 1040 forms.

What is Form 1040?

The Form 1040 is the general form that individuals use to report their income back to the IRS. As touched on above, there are a few variations to the 1040 form.

Form 1040 is the long version, while 1040EZ and 1040A are shorter-hand forms. You must use the correct form depending on your tax situation. That decision is based on the amount and type of income earned and the deductions you plan to claim.

Who qualifies for Form 1040EZ?

As you may have guessed from the name, Form 1040EZ is the simplified version of the original 1040 tax form. While it may be the least complex, it has the most restrictive qualifications. In order to file Form 1040EZ, people must meet all of the following qualifications, as outlined by the IRS:

  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
  • You don’t claim any dependents.
  • You don’t claim any adjustments to income.
  • You claim only the earned income credit.

You (and your spouse if filing a joint return) were under age 65 and not blind at the end of 2017. (If you were born on January 1, 1953, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2017 and can’t use Form 1040EZ.)

  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
  • You had only wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship or fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and your taxable interest wasn’t over $1,500.
  • If you received interest, you aren’t required to file Schedule B, you didn’t earn any interest as a nominee, and you don’t have amounts in boxes 11, 12, or 13 of your Form 1099-INT or boxes 6 or 10 of your Form 1099-OID.
  • You don’t owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee.
  • You aren’t a debtor in a chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after October 16, 2005.
  • Advance payments of the premium tax credit weren’t made for you, your spouse, or any individual you enrolled in coverage for whom no one else is claiming the personal exemption.
  • Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit weren’t made for you, your spouse, or another qualifying family member.

If you do not meet all of these requirements, you are not eligible to use Form 1040EZ. Instead, you need to use Form 1040 or  Form 1040A.

It’s important to note that even if you qualify for Form 1040EZ, you may find it beneficial to utilize another type of form if you want to claim various credits.

Who qualifies for Form 1040A?

If you do not qualify for Form 1040EZ, don’t fret just yet. The Form 1040A is only slightly lengthier, but it is still intended to be relatively simple. Form 1040A allows you to claim more deductions and credits It also permits you to include more types of income than you can on Form 1040EZ.

In order to file Form 1040A, you must meet the following IRS requirements:

  • Your income is only from wages, salaries, tips, interest, ordinary dividends, capital gain distributions, taxable scholarships and fellowship grants, pensions, annuities, IRAs, unemployment compensation, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and taxable social security or railroad retirement benefits.
  • The only adjustments to income you can claim are the IRA deduction, the student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, and the educator expenses deduction.
  • You don’t itemize deductions.
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
  • The only tax credits you can claim are the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the credit for the elderly or the disabled, education credits, the retirement savings contributions credit, the child tax credit, the additional child tax credit, the earned income credit, and/or the premium tax credit.
  • You didn’t have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired from the exercise of an incentive stock option.

While Form 1040A is simpler than the standard 1040 form, it still may not be advantageous to you. One major limitation of Form 1040A is that you cannot itemize your deductions, so keep that in mind when deciding which form is best for you.

Full Form 1040

If you are required to file a tax return and do not qualify to fill out Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A (or you choose not to), you need to fill out the full 1040 form. While it may take a little bit longer, TaxAct still makes it easy to complete.

Filling out the long-form 1040 comes with a few advantages. Depending on your tax situation, the full Form 1040 allows you to claim all of your desired credits and deductions..

Luckily, no matter what form you need to fill out, TaxAct helps make filing your taxes as easy as possible.

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