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Make it Easy on Yourself: Choose the Simplest Tax Form

IRS TAX TIP 2012-03, January 5, 2012
 
If you're among the taxpayers who still file a paper return, the IRS reminds you that it no longer mails paper tax packages, a step the agency took after continued growth in electronic filing, the availability of free options and as a way to reduce costs. If you're e-filing, the software will choose the best form for you, but if you're taking pencil to paper, make it as simple as possible by choosing the simplest tax form for your situation. 

The quickest way to get forms and instructions is the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Taxpayers can also get them from a local IRS office, a participating community outlet like many libraries and post offices, or from the IRS's automated forms line at 1-800-TAX-FORM.

Here are some general rules to consider when deciding which paper tax form to file.

Use the 1040EZ if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly
  • You are not claiming any dependents
  • Your interest income is $1,500 or less

Use the 1040A if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000
  • You have capital gain distributions
  • You claim certain tax credits
  • You claim adjustments to income for IRA contributions and student loan interest

If you cannot use the 1040EZ or the 1040A, you’ll probably need to file using the 1040. Among the reasons you must use the 1040 are:

  • Your taxable income is $100,000 or more
  • You claim itemized deductions
  • You are reporting self-employment income
  • You are reporting income from sale of property

You can gain quick and easy access to IRS forms and instructions or find out more about e-file by visiting www.irs.gov. Tax products are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and often appear online well before they are available on paper. To view and download tax products, visit the IRS website and select Forms and Publications.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 05-Feb-2013