What is it?
Form 1040 is an official tax document used by individuals to file tax returns with the IRS in the United States. U.S. residents should complete a Form 1040 (or one of its variants) and submit it to the IRS by the annual tax filing deadline each year, usually on April 15th.
Why Do You Need It?
The IRS requires that U.S. residents file a tax return every year. Doing so allows the IRS to ensure that you’ve paid the correct amount of taxes on your income throughout the year. In many cases, individuals pay more than they owe through payroll deductions, and as a result receive a refund after filing their Form 1040 with the IRS.
Instructions for use
Form 1040 is a lengthy document, consisting of nearly 100 lines that must be completed prior to submission. On the first page of the Form 1040, you’ll fill out information about yourself, your dependents, and your income. On the second page, you’ll fill out information related to the tax deductions and credits that you qualify for.
Keep in mind that there are several versions of the Form 1040, including:
It’s important to understand which forms you need to file so that the IRS is able to complete your tax return accurately. In general, you’ll use the standard Form 1040 if you are making itemized deductions, make more than $100,000 per year, or are claiming dependents on your tax return.
You can file your Form 1040 in one of two ways:
Electronic Filing of Form 1040
U.S. residents can file Form 1040 electronically using one of three approved methods:
- File for free using the IRS’ Free File tool
- Through approved tax filing software
- Hire an individual to file the return who has been granted permission to e-file others’ returns by the IRS.
To use the IRS’ Free File Tool, residents must have less than $62,000 in annual income, and must meet additional requirements for deductions and income sources.
Paper Filing Form 1040
The IRS still accepts physical copies of Form 1040 for tax returns. Residents may complete the form with a pen or computer, and mail them to the location listed for their state of residence. To find the appropriate mailing address, visit the IRS Website.
Be sure to complete your Form 1040 accurately. The IRS conducts random audits of tax returns, and inaccurate tax filings can lead to penalties and liens on your property. If you are not sure which version of the Form 1040 to use, contact a licensed tax preparation specialist.