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What is IRS Form 1040 Schedule 1?

Updated for Tax Year 2020


OVERVIEW

Form 1040 Schedule 1 is used to report certain types of income that aren't listed on the main form. It's also used to claim some tax deductions.


Form 1040 may be the main form people think of at tax time, but most taxpayers need to attach one or more additional forms, or schedules, to their federal income tax return. One of those forms is Schedule 1 (Form 1040), which lists additional types of income that aren't listed on Form 1040, as well as some additional adjustments to income.

Of course, if you use TurboTax to file your tax return, you just need to answer a few questions and we'll complete the right forms based on the information you provide. Still, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the forms you need so you know what to look for when you review your tax return before filing.

What is IRS Form 1040 Schedule 1?

Before the IRS and the Treasury redesigned Form 1040 in 2018, it included several lines for reporting various income types, with a line as a catchall for "Other Income." It also included several lines for adjustments to income, also known as "above-the-line" deductions.

The new version gives taxpayers just a handful of lines for reporting the most common types of income, such as:

  • Wages
  • Interest and dividends
  • Retirement income
  • Social security benefits
  • Capital gains or losses

The need to report any other income types and adjustments to income didn't go away — that reporting has simply moved to Form 1040 Schedule 1.

Part I – Additional Income

Part I of Schedule 1 is where you'll report the following types of income:

  • Taxable refunds of state and local income taxes
  • Alimony received (for divorce agreements dated before December 31, 2018)
  • Income or loss from a business
  • Gains or losses from sales of business property
  • Rent and royalty income
  • Income from a partnership, S corporation, or trust
  • Farm income or loss
  • Unemployment compensation

Line 8 of the 2020 Schedule 1 is now the catchall for other types of income that don't fit into the predefined lines, such as prizes and awards or gambling winnings.

Looking down the lines of Schedule 1, you may notice that some of these items also require an additional form or schedule. For example, if you have income or loss from a business, you'll also need to attach Schedule C to your return. If you need to report rent or royalties as income, you'll also have to attach Schedule E.

Part II – Adjustments to Income

Adjustments to income go in Part II of Schedule 1. These include:

  • Up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses for educators who work in schools
  • Business expenses of military reservists, performing artists, and fee-based government officials (the only qualifying professions for certain business deductions)
  • Contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Moving expenses for members of the Armed Forces
  • The deductible part of self-employment taxes
  • Contributions to a SEP, SIMPLE, or qualified retirement plan
  • Health insurance premiums for self-employed people
  • Penalties on early withdrawals of savings
  • Alimony payments (for divorce agreements dated before December 31, 2018)
  • Contributions to an IRA
  • Up to $2,500 of student loan interest
  • Up to $4,000 of qualified higher education tuition and fees

These are valuable deductions for many taxpayers for two reasons. First, these deductions directly reduce your adjusted gross income, opening up the possibility of taking other deductions and tax credits that have adjusted gross income limits.

For example, to claim the full American Opportunity Tax Credit, your 2021 modified adjusted income must be $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less if you're married and file a joint return with your spouse). You can't claim the credit if your modified adjusted gross income is over $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers).

Say you have $91,000 of income. However, you contributed $3,000 to your health savings account, $8,000 to a SEP IRA, and paid student loan interest adding up to $1,000. With a total of $12,000 in above-the-line deductions, your adjusted gross income is $79,000, meaning you're likely eligible for the full American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Another reason adjustments to income are so valuable is that you don't need to itemize deductions to claim them. Above-the-line deductions reduce your income before applying either the standard deduction or itemized deductions. Since nearly 90% of taxpayers take the standard deduction, above-the-line deductions are a nice tax break without the extra paperwork of itemizing.

Who needs to file Form 1040 Schedule 1?

Not everyone needs to attach Schedule 1 to their federal income tax return. The IRS trimmed down and simplified the old Form 1040, allowing people to add on forms as needed.

You only need to file Schedule 1 if you have any of the additional types of income or adjustments to income mentioned above.

Remember, when you file your taxes with TurboTax, we'll ask simple questions about you. Then, we'll complete the right forms and make sure you get every deduction you deserve.

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