The Difference Between 1040 & 1040A Tax Forms


When April rolls around, every American taxpayer becomes intimately familiar with the famous IRS 1040 tax forms. What most taxpayers do not realize is that there are actually three 1040 forms, and each form serves its own purpose. Taxpayers choose between the <a href=”″>1040, the 1040A or the 1040EZ</a> to file their taxes each year and the form they choose depends completely on their tax paying situation.

The 1040

The 1040 form is the one that any taxpayer can use in any situation. It is the main tax form the IRS puts out each year, and it is the form that can be used for any tax filing scenario. You must use the 1040 form if you made over $100,000 for the tax year, you have income from sources other than your job, you itemize deductions or you owe household taxes. If you do not meet any of that criteria, then you can choose one of the other forms.

The 1040A

You can use the 1040A if you have no income from your own business and your income for the year was less than $100,000. You cannot itemize your deductions and you can only claim child or elderly tax care credits. You cannot have income from events such as exercising a stock option or gains from a business you completely or partially own.

The 1040EZ

Many taxpayers use the 1040EZ form because it is designed to be simple and concise to fill out. While the 1040EZ is simple to complete, it comes with a long list of conditions. You cannot have dependents an you cannot itemize. You can only file single or married filing jointly, and you can only claim the earned income credit and no other tax credits. Two of the more unique conditions of the 1040EZ is that you and your spouse had to be 65 years of age or younger by January 1 of the following year, and neither of you could not have been blind at the end of December of the filing year.

Which One Should You Use?

The IRS offers clear instructions on the conditions that must be met to use each of the 1040 forms. If you are at all confused about which form you should be using, then the worst thing you can do is guess. You should make an appointment to see a qualified tax specialist and they will help guide you towards which form will best serve your needs.

Filing Dates

All 1040 forms must be postmarked or submitted online by the same day in April. In general, that date is April 15th. But there are years where a holiday or weekend that falls on the 15th have caused the date to be moved. Ask a tax expert what the filing date is so that you get your taxes in on time.

The three 1040 forms were set up to make filing easier for various types of taxpayers. Before you file your taxes, you should have a tax expert help you to decide which 1040 form is best for your situation.