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What is IRS Form 1040EZ?

Updated for Tax Year 2017 / July 22, 2021 01:33 PM


OVERVIEW

Form 1040EZ is no longer used, but Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR are important for taxpayers to be familiar with. Here's a guide to what is on these forms and what has changed from previous tax years.


In the past, if you had a simple tax return to prepare, you likely filed your return with IRS Form 1040EZ. This form covered a broad range of taxpayers.

However, filing with Form 1040EZ is no longer an option. This form has since been replaced by Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR, depending on your tax situation.

What is Form 1040EZ?

Before recent tax reforms, you could file with Form 1040EZ if:

  • Your filing status was single or married filing jointly
  • You had taxable income of less than $100,000 with less than $1,500 of interest income
  • You claimed no dependents

This form made it easier and faster to report basic tax situations. Now, through at least 2025, most taxpayers will use either Form 1040 or 1040-SR to prepare their taxes and file with the IRS.

What is IRS Form 1040?

IRS Form 1040 acts as one of the official documents that you can use to file your annual federal income tax return. Form 1040 has replaced Form 1040EZ since tax year 2018, but if you haven't filed a return using Form 1040EZ for tax years 2017 and earlier, you may still access past versions of the form on the IRS website or through TurboTax's tax preparation software.

Form 1040 has separate sections where you report your income, tax deductions, and some tax credits to determine your tax bill and whether you owe money or can expect to receive a refund. Depending on the types of income you report and the tax deductions or tax credits you claim, you may need to attach other forms or schedules.

Form 1040EZ vs. Form 1040

Before it was discontinued, Form 1040EZ allowed you to claim a handful of credits and deductions on your tax return. For example, if you needed to file a simple return, but you were also claiming the standard deduction and the earned income tax credit (EITC), you could use Form 1040EZ.

Form 1040 asks you to include information about dependents, while 1040EZ didn't allow you to claim any. Form 1040 resembles Form 1040EZ by allowing you to claim income from:

Form 1040 has many more income categories for items such as Social Security benefits and alimony, along with the ability to claim more deductions.

Form 1040EZ vs. 1040 vs. 1040-SR

Forms 1040 and 1040-SR resemble the 1040EZ form, which originally aimed to simplify the tax return preparation process if you faced a straightforward tax situation and met certain conditions.

Now, with Forms 1040 and 1040-SR as options, the choice is still simple for most taxpayers. The regular 1040 form includes more income categories, deductions, and credits, while the 1040-SR form is only available to you if you are 65 or older.

If you meet the age criteria, Form 1040-SR: U.S. Tax Return for Seniors is the same as the current Form 1040, but with a larger font and the standard deduction table printed on the form. Form 1040-SR also provides more space to fill in your information if you fill out the form by hand.

Form 1040-SR also has no income limit, unlike the 1040EZ form, which was limited to individuals or joint filers who earned $100,000 or less with under $1,500 in interest income.

Sections of Form 1040EZ

While this form is no longer in use, the below information is accurate for each section in tax years prior to 2018.

Personal information

As with all tax forms, the top of Form 1040EZ required you to provide your personal information such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number

Sources of income

The only types of income you could list on Form 1040EZ were:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Tips
  • Taxable interest of $1,500 or less
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Alaska permanent fund dividends

Payments, credits, and tax

Here, you listed tax payments you had already made through employer withholding or estimated tax payments. If you had federal tax withheld from your paycheck, your employer would issue you a Form W-2 reporting the total amount withheld.

If you were eligible for the EITC, you could claim it in this section. However, these were the only two tax credits you could claim when filing Form 1040EZ. You then added up all of your payments and credits before calculating the tax on your taxable income. You could use the tax tables in the instructions to find the amount of tax you owed for your filing status and taxable income.

Calculating refunds and amounts due

If your total tax payments and credits exceeded the calculated tax on your income, then you were entitled to a refund for overpayment. If you calculated a refund, you could enter your bank information and have it deposited directly to your account. If you had underpaid, then you needed to make a payment for the remaining balance.

Signing your return

A tax return is not valid without signatures. While it may seem obvious, many taxpayers forget to sign their returns before mailing them to the IRS. For this part, you needed to be sure to sign it in the last section. If you filed jointly, your spouse needed to sign it, too. If you filed electronically, you would have signed your tax return electronically.

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