Topic 352 - Which Form – 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ?

The three forms used for filing individual federal income tax returns are Form 1040EZ (PDF), Form 1040A (PDF), and Form 1040 (PDF).

Form 1040EZ is the simplest form to fill out. You may use Form 1040EZ if you meet all the following conditions:

  1. Your filing status is single or married filing jointly
  2. You claim no dependents
  3. You, and your spouse if filing a joint return, were under age 65 on January 1, 2014, and not blind at the end of 2013
  4. You have only wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and your taxable interest was not over $1,500
  5. Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  6. Your earned tips, if any, are included in boxes 5 and 7 of your Form W-2
  7. You do not owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee
  8. You are not a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after October 16, 2005
  9. You do not claim any adjustments to income, such as a deduction for IRA contributions, a student loan interest deduction, an educator expenses deduction, or a tuition and fees deduction
  10. You do not claim any credits other than the earned income credit

If you file Form 1040EZ, you cannot itemize deductions or claim any adjustments to income or tax credits (other than the earned income credit).

Form 1040EZ Links

References:

Form 1040EZ Instructions (PDF)

Return Preparation and Filing Options

If you cannot use Form 1040EZ, you may be able to use Form 1040A if:

  1. Your income is only 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
  2. Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  3. You do not itemize deductions
  4. You did not have an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock you acquired from the exercise of an incentive stock option
  5. Your taxes are only from the Tax Table, the alternative minimum tax, recapture of an education credit, Form 8615 (PDF) or the Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
  6. Your only adjustments to income are the IRA deduction, the student loan interest deduction, the educator expenses deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, and
  7. The only credits you are claiming are the 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, or the retirement savings contribution credit

You can also use Form 1040A if you received dependent care benefits.

Form 1040A Links

References:

Form 1040A Instructions (PDF)

Return Preparation and Filing Options

Often used Schedules:

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule B (PDF) - Interest and Ordinary Dividends

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule R (PDF) - Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule EIC (PDF) - Earned Income Credit

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule 8812 (PDF) - Child Tax Credit

Often used Forms:

Form 8917 (PDF) - Tuition and Fees Deduction

Form 2441 (PDF) - Child and Dependent Care Expenses

Form 8863 (PDF) - Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits)

Form 8888 (PDF) - Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases)

Finally, you must use Form 1040 under certain circumstances, such as:

  1. Your taxable income is $100,000 or more
  2. You have certain types of income such 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
  3. You itemize deductions or claim certain tax credits or adjustments to income, or
  4. You owe household employment taxes

A complete list of conditions outlining when Form 1040 must be used is in the Form 1040A Instructions (PDF).

Form 1040 Links

References:

Form 1040 Instructions (PDF)

1040 Central

Return Preparation and Filing Options

Often used Schedules:

Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF) - Itemized Deductions

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule B (PDF) - Interest and Ordinary Dividends

Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF) - Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship)

Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF) - Net Profit From Business

Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF) - Capital Gains and Losses

Form 1040, Schedule E (PDF) - Supplemental Income and Loss

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule EIC (PDF) - Earned Income Credit

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule 8812 (PDF) - Child Tax Credit

Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule R (PDF) - Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

Often used Forms:

Form 8917 (PDF) - Tuition and Fees Deduction

Form 2441 (PDF) - Child and Dependent Care Expenses

Form 8863 (PDF) - Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits)

Form 8888 (PDF) - Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases)

Form 8949 (PDF) - Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets

If you were a nonresident alien during the tax year and you were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you may use any one of these three forms, based on your circumstances, only if you elect to file a joint return with your spouse. Other nonresident aliens may have to file Form 1040NR (PDF) or Form 1040NR-EZ (PDF). For more information on resident and nonresident aliens, refer to Topic 851 and Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 12, 2013