Questions and Answers about the 2018 Form 1040

1. Why was it necessary to change the Form 1040?

Following the most expansive tax law changes in 30 years, Treasury asked the IRS to look at ways to improve the 1040 filing experience. The IRS reviewed the set of 1040 forms (i.e. the Forms 1040, 1040EZ and 1040A) with the goal of simplifying this experience for taxpayers and its partners in the tax industry.

Treasury approved a new approach that provides flexibility in how IRS will be able to manage future changes to the Form 1040 and reduce the number of 1040 forms from which taxpayers must choose, to one basic Form 1040 that all taxpayers will use. This form uses a "building block" ap­proach so taxpayers with straightforward tax situations only need to file Form 1040, while those who need to provide supplemental information can use the new numbered sched­ules they need.

2. How did the IRS develop the Form 1040 and its schedules?

The IRS released the first early draft of this form in late June 2018. To make the transition to this new form as seamless as possible, the IRS shared this early draft form and schedules, as well as the subsequent versions of these, with its partners in the tax industry to get their input during development.

3. How do I know if I need to file more than the Form 1040?

The 2018 Form 1040 uses a "building block" approach so the federal tax return could be reduced to a single, simple form. Taxpayers can supplement this form with new numbered schedules, if needed. These new schedules are:

  • Form 1040 (Schedule 1), Additional Income and Adjustments to Income
    Taxpayers use this schedule to report items such as capital gains, unemployment, compensation, prize or award money, gambling winnings or to claim deductions, such as student loan interest deduction, self-employment tax and educator expenses.
  • Form 1040 (Schedule 2), Tax
    Taxpayers use this schedule to report amounts they owe for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) or when they need to make an excess advance premium tax credit repayment.
  • Form 1040 (Schedule 3), Non-refundable Credits
    Taxpayers use this schedule to claim a nonrefundable credit other than the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents, such as the foreign tax credit, education credits, general business credit
  • Form 1040 (Schedule 4), Other Taxes
    Taxpayers use this schedule to report other taxes they owe and must pay, such as self-employment tax, household employment taxes, additional tax on IRAs or other qualified retirement plans and tax-favored accounts.
  • Form 1040 (Schedule 5), Other Payments and Refundable Credits
    Taxpayers use this schedule to claim a refundable credit other than the earned income credit, American opportunity credit, or additional child tax credit or have other payments, such as an amount paid with a request for an extension to file or excess social security tax withheld.
  • Form 1040 (Schedule 6), Foreign Address and Third-Party Designee
    Taxpayers who have a foreign address or a third-party designee (other than a paid preparer) use this schedule to report this information.

4. Will filing the 2018 Form 1040 be different?

With nearly 90 percent of people now using tax software, the IRS expects these changes will be seamless for taxpayers who take advantage of the benefits of e-filing, and the IRS expects e-file use to continue to increase.

The 2018 Form 1040 has been redesigned. Some lines have been combined or shifted to other forms and schedules. Some items that remain basically unchanged are:

  • the spaces for names and Social Security numbers,
  • the spaces for signatures remain on page one,
  • the checkboxes for selecting the Filing Status and
  • the checkboxes for the Presidential election campaign. 

The checkbox for reporting full year health care coverage or exemption is on page one of the 2018 Form 1040.

5. What do I need to do when I prepare and file my federal tax returns?

The 2018 Form 1040 uses a "building block" approach that reduces the federal income tax return to one simple form that is supplemented with new numbered schedules if needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations will only need to file the Form 1040 with no numbered schedules. Since nearly 90 percent of taxpayers now use tax software, the IRS expects the change to this form and new schedules to be seamless for those who take advantage of the benefits of e-filing because the tax return preparation software will automatically use taxpayer answers to the tax questions to complete the 2018 Form 1040 and any needed numbered schedules. In fact, many taxpayers who use software or the services of a tax preparer and file electronically may not even realize that the 2018 Form 1040 is different until they see a downloaded or printed copy when they file.

Individuals who filed paper tax returns last year or who use paper tax forms to prepare their returns for electronic filing will notice some changes. However, the most commonly used lines from last year's Form 1040 are still on the 2018 Form 1040. These Q&As provide guidance that will help taxpayers see how less commonly used lines were moved to the new numbered schedules and are organized by general categories, such as income and adjustments to income, nonrefundable credits, taxes, payments, and refundable credits.

6. Where can I find more information about the new schedules and the types of information are reported on them?

Review this information about the 2018 Form 1040 on IRS.gov.

7. Where can I find more information about the Form 1040 and tax reform?

Review this information about the 2018 Form 1040 and IRS.gov/getready webpages on IRS.gov, as well as information in Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families and About Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

They may also want to use the Online Tools, Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics and IRS Tax Trails on IRS.gov, as well as the IRS Tax Map, to help them find answers to their tax questions and to find tax help.

8. What form should I use if I need to file a tax return for a year prior to 2018?

You should use and file the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for that tax year. Prior year tax forms and instructions can be downloaded from IRS.gov. Information on filing these types of returns is available on the Filing Past Due Tax Returns webpage on IRS.gov.

9. What form should I use if I need to amend my return?

If you who discover a mistake on your tax returns after filing you can file an amended tax return to correct it. This includes changing the filing status and dependents, or correcting income, credits or deductions. The instructions for Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list more reasons to amend a return. You can use the Should I File an Amended Return? tool on IRS.gov to determine if you need to file a Form 1040X. You do not need to file an amended return to fix math errors, as the IRS will correct those.

10. How do I compare last year to this year's F1040?

See the 2018 Form 1040 instructions and the answer to question 3 above.

11. Where can I order pre-printed forms?

All IRS forms, instructions and publications are available on IRS.gov, which continues to be the best way to get tax forms and publications. It's quick, easy, free and always available. Tax products are usually available on IRS.gov six to eight weeks before the paper versions are available. Taxpayers can download and view popular tax publications and Form 1040 Instructions on mobile devices such as a tablet at no charge. eBook, PDF and HTML versions are also available. Taxpayers can visit www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/ebook for a listing of all eBook publications.

You can order tax forms, instructions and publications you need to complete your 2018 tax return. We will process your order and ship it by U.S. mail when the products become available. Most products should be available by the end of January 2019. Information about ordering forms and publications by mail is available on IRS.gov.