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Filing Basics

Which Tax Form to File

There are three versions of the 1040 form for filing your tax return. Which form you should use depends on your tax situation. It's important to file the correct form to ensure that your return is processed quickly. Tax preparation programs, such as Online Tax Preparation, choose the appropriate forms for you.

Form 1040EZ

Form 1040EZ is the simplest form to use, but it allows only the simplest tax returns. You can file Form 1040EZ if all the following are true:

  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
  • You are not claiming any dependents.
  • You are not claiming any adjustments to gross income.
  • You are not claiming any credits other than the Earned Income Credit.
  • You, and your spouse if filing jointly, were under age 65 and are not blind as of January 1, 2014.
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
  • You do not owe any household employment taxes on wages paid to household employees.
  • You are not a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after Oct. 16, 2005.
  • Your income is only from:
    • Wages
    • Salaries
    • Tips (must be reported in boxes 5 and 7 of Form W-2)
    • Unemployment compensation
    • Taxable scholarships and fellowship grants
    • No more than $1,500 in interest income
    • Alaska Permanent Fund dividends

Form 1040A

You can file Form 1040A if all the following are true:

Form 1040

If you do not qualify to file Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, you will file Form 1040. All types of income, credits, deductions, and taxes can be reported on this form. You must use Form 1040 for any of the following:

  • You have self-employment income (including farm income).
  • You received $20 or more in unreported tips in any one month.
  • You received income as a partner in a partnership, as a shareholder of an S corporation, or as a beneficiary of an estate or trust.
  • You received dividends on insurance policies if they exceed the total of all net premiums you paid for the contract.
  • Your taxable income is $100,000 or more.
  • You itemize deductions.
  • Your Form W-2, box 12, shows uncollected tax on tips or group term life insurance.
  • Your Form W-2, box 12, shows a code Z.
  • You owe excise tax on insider stock compensation from an expatriated corporation.
  • You are a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after October 16, 2005.
  • You have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired from the exercise of an incentive stock option.
  • You owe household employment taxes.
  • You are claiming the adoption credit or received adoption benefits from an employer.
  • You are eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit.
  • You are an employee and your employer did not withhold Social Security and Medicare tax.
  • You had a qualified health savings account funding distribution from your IRA.
  • You have a net disaster loss attributable to a federally declared disaster.