What is the IRS 1040A Form?

Updated for Tax Year 2017


OVERVIEW

One of the three common forms you can use to file your federal income tax return is IRS Form 1040A.


For tax years beginning 2018 (the tax return you submit in 2019), the 1040A and EZ forms are no longer available. They have been replaced with new 1040 and 1040-SR forms. For those who are filing prior year returns, you can continue to use form 1040A or EZ for tax years through 2017.

The below is accurate for tax years prior to 2018

The IRS Form 1040A is one of three forms you can use to file your federal income tax return. Form 1040A is a shorter version of the more detailed Form 1040, but is more complex than the simple 1040EZ form. All taxpayers can use Form 1040; however, to use Form 1040A you must satisfy a number of requirements, such as having taxable income of $100,000 or less and claiming the standard deduction rather than itemizing.

Filing status and dependents

When preparing Form 1040A, you must list your dependents and choose your filing status before you begin to report any income. Each filing status, such as “single” or “married filing jointly,” uses different tax brackets for calculating your income tax.

For tax years before 2018, each dependent can provide for an exemption. Each exemption works just like a deduction; the amount reduces your taxable income, so the more exemptions you have, the lower your tax liability will be. The top portion of the form includes a section where you must list the name and Social Security number of each dependent and provide their relationship to you.

For tax years after 2017, dependents no longer provide and exemption deduction but rather provide a credit. These credits can be wither a child tax credit or a dependent tax credit depending upon the age of the dependent.

Types of income allowed on the 1040A

The income section of the 1040A form only allows you to report limited types of income. Specific items include wages, salaries and tips, interest and dividend income, capital gains, IRA, pension and annuity distributions, unemployment compensation, Alaska permanent fund dividends and Social Security benefits. If you have other types of income, such as from a business you operate as a sole proprietorship, you still must report the income since it is taxable, but you must file Form 1040.

After reporting your income, the 1040A form allows you to claim certain adjustments to arrive at your adjusted gross income. These include deductions for educator expenses, IRA contributions, student loan interest and tuition payments.

Reporting tax, credits and payments on Form 1040A

The second page of Form 1040A allows you to subtract a standard deduction and your exemption deductions (for tax years prior to 2018) from your adjusted gross income to arrive at your taxable income. You then need to determine the amount of tax you owe by finding the appropriate range for your taxable income and filing status in the tax tables in the instructions.

Once you calculate your tax, Form 1040A allows you to claim a limited number of tax credits such as for child and dependent care expenses, child tax credit, the credit for the elderly or disabled and education tax credits. Your total credits reduce your tax bill on a dollar-for-dollar basis. After reducing your tax by the credits, you reduce it again by the amount of your tax payments and withholding.

Differences between Form 1040A and Form 1040

The filing status and exemptions section of Form 1040A is similar to the corresponding section on Form 1040. Due to the limited types of income you can receive and the limited adjustments to income you can make on Form 1040A, the income and adjusted gross income sections of Form 1040A are much shorter. One of the most significant differences between the two forms is that you can itemize deductions on Form 1040 but not on Form 1040A.

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