The Simplified 1040 Tax Form

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act brought several changes to individual and business tax filers. Perhaps the most notable was the consolidation of three different 1040 forms into a single tax form. US taxpayers no longer need to determine which form they qualify to use.

Prior to 2018, there were three versions of the 1040 form. Individuals who were filing either single or married filing jointly could use the 1040EZ as long as a bankruptcy had not been been filed after October 15th; the total household income was under $100,000 and the standard deduction was going to be taken. You can view a copy of the 2017 1040ez Form here. A "Short Form" or 1040A was also available. It allowed for many of the special circumstances that the 1040EZ did not accommodate, including: student loan interest, classroom expenses, college tuition, IRA contributions and more. This form was permitted for anyone regardless of filing status; those who were married but filing separately were also eligible. As with the EZ, expenses could not be itemized, the standard deduction must have been taken. However, extra deductions could be claimed such as: child tax credit, Hope and Lifetime Learning educational credit, credit for the disabled or elderly, or child/dependent care expenses. You can find the 2017 short form here. The "Long Form" 1040 was the most complex of the three forms. It allowed for the greatest number of deductions and special circumstances. Anyone who did not qualify for either the EZ or the A forms must have used this. The 2017 form can be found here.

The newly released 1040 form is intended to simplify the standard filing process for all households. The form itself has been shortened, however, you may need to include schedules if you have income from certain additional sources (such as capital gains) or if you want to claim particular deductions and/or credits.

Major Changes to the 1040 Form

There are some changes to the 1040 form that could make part of the filing process easier. There were a few items deleted, allowing for simpler filing for some taxpayers. The four major deletions are the personal exemption, the alimony deduction, miscellaneous deductions, and moving expense deductions. That may seem like a lot of deduction opportunities to eliminate, but these may be balanced out for many taxpayers with a large jump in the standard deduction.

If tax payers don't normally claim many additional deductions, they could end up benefiting from this change in terms of your tax liability (or return, if you qualify for one). Even if you do typically claim one or more of the existing deductions, you could still potentially lessen your tax liability.

Questions on the New 1040 Form

The redesigned 1040 form from the IRS is only half a page long on two sides. The first part covers your personal information, while the second part calculates your income information and shows whether you can expect a refund or owe taxes.

What questions do you need to answer on the 2018 1040 form?

First, you'll need to pick a filing status: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying widow(er). You'll then need your name and social security number (and the same for your spouse if filing jointly). You'll have the chance to take a spouse standard deduction, and you'll need to check off a box if you had full-year health care coverage. Next you simply need to fill in your home address.

From there, you'll move onto your dependents. First, check the box if you have more than four dependents. No matter how many you have, list out the first and last name of each dependent, include their social security number and relationship to you. For each one, you can also check a box if that dependent qualifies for the child tax credit, or any other dependent credit.

Once, it's time to move onto the numbers on page two of the 1040 form you'll go line by line to add all of your income from your W-2, plus other taxable income sources like taxable interest and ordinary dividends. You'll then subtract your deductions and credits to determine your refund or amount owed.

A taxpayer may need to complete one or more schedules to calculate and report various taxable items. The total computed on all schedules is then transferred to and filed with the Form 1040. When using our online tax software, if we determine that these are necessary for your filing our software will include them with your tax return at no additional cost to you.

What if you need to amend a return?

If you want to correct an error or oversight that you made when you filed a tax return using Form 1040 you will need to use a Form 1040X to amend your return. There are several reasons for amending a tax return. You might need to change your filing status from single to married or alter the number of dependents that you claimed. Discovering an additional Form W-2 or Form 1099 may make it necessary for you to report additional income or withholding. Making changes to the tax deductions, personal exemptions or tax credits that you claimed would also require you to file an amended return.

If you decided to amend your tax return with a Form 1040X, remember that this 1040 form can only be filed after your initial tax return has been processed. A paper copy must be filed; online filing is not available for this form. This is a generic form, so be sure to write the tax year that you are correcting at the top of the form. If you need to fix your returns for multiple years, you will need to file a separate Form 1040X for each year that you are correcting. You can download the Form here.

A quick note regarding printed forms - The Treasury may modify it's form requirements from time-to-time. If this occurs and you do not plan to use an electronic tax software program such as ours, you'll need to verify that the Treasury has not issued replacements for the forms you are trying to prepare. For example, in 2013 the IRS altered the 1040 form based on changes enacted by Congress the previous year, in the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). This was not available until January 30th of that year.