Tax guide

Which Form to File

Form 1040 was simplified and shortened beginning with 2018 returns, and will be used by most taxpayers. Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ were eliminated.

New for 2019, taxpayers over age 65 can opt for a new Form 1040-SR. The most obvious differences are that this version uses slightly larger text, and provides a standard deduction chart to show how the deduction increases when a taxpayer is over age 65 and/or blind.

More complicated returns are handled by these special schedules:

  • Schedule 1 is for additional income (like business or farm income, unemployment benefits, prize or award money, gambling winnings) and adjustments to income (above-the-line deductions, like student loan interest, educator expenses or self-employment tax).
  • Schedule 2 is for taxes, namely if you owe alternative minimum tax or need to repay excess advance premium tax credit, as well as self-employment taxes or repayment of the first-time homebuyer credit.
  • Schedule 3 is for payments and credits. Handled here are estimated tax payments, as well as credits like the Child and Dependent Care Credit, education credits, the net premium tax credit, and the foreign tax credit.

These schedules are mostly the lines that were removed from Form 1040. They were separated out because they apply to fewer taxpayers. There were six schedules on 2018 returns, but the IRS has made some combinations.

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