An IRS 1040 form is the standard federal income tax form that is used to report an individual’s gross yearly income. The form can seem confusing and overwhelming if you don’t know how to fill it out, but if you break it down into sections it will be much easier.
Filling Out Your Personal Information
The top part of the 1040 form is just asking you for your basic personal information. You will need to include your name, address, social security number, etc. This part of the form also asks you for your filing status. Are you single or married? If you’re married, are you filing your taxes jointly or separately?
The next part of the 1040 form covers exemptions. Generally, you are entitled to one exemption for yourself, one for your spouse, and one for each of your dependents. Fill in the information that is required and add up the total number of exemptions you are claiming.
Lines 7-22 (Income)
You can find this information from tax documents that have been provided to you by your employer. List each of your incomes on the appropriate line and on line 22 add up all of the amounts to determine your “total income”.
Lines 23-37 (Adjusted Gross Income)
In this section you will enter any of your deductions to come up with your “adjusted gross income”. Common deductions include Traditional IRA contributions, tuition and fees deduction, and contributions to a Health Savings Account.
Lines 38-55 (Tax and Credits)
You will use these lines to determine the amount of income tax you are responsible for paying over the course of the year. In this section credits are valuable because they reduce the tax amount you may owe.
Lines 56-60 (Other Taxes)
This is where you will enter any other taxes you are responsible for. Things such as self-employment tax and the additional 10% tax for early IRA withdrawals go here.
Lines 61-76 (Payments, Refund Amount/Amount Owed)
Any taxes that you have already paid in the form of wage withholding or quarterly estimated tax payments will be put in this section. Enter the sum of all your payments and enter the total on line 71. If the sum of your payments is less than your total tax, the difference is the amount you owe to the IRS. If the sum of your payments is greater than your total tax, the difference is the amount of your tax refund that you will be receiving back from the IRS.
The Last Step
The last step is just as important as each of the other steps. This is where you sign and date your 1040 form. If you are filing jointly with your spouse, you both need to sign and date the form. If you are filing by yourself, you are the only person that needs to sign and date. If you send in your 1040 form unsigned, it cannot be processed. This will cause a delay in your tax return being filed.
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