Form 1040 Essentials
Highlights about what to look out for when preparing this year's Form 1040.
Tax Deadlines: Critical Tax-Related Deadlines
Calendar of important IRS deadlines throughout the year.
Alternative Minimum Tax
The alternative minimum tax, or AMT, is a second tax system parallel to the regular income tax. The alternative minimum tax adjusts or eliminates certain tax deductions or credits. Your tax may be higher under the alternative minimum tax rules if your income is over the AMT exemption amount.
Top Picks for Free File Software
You can prepare your taxes and electronically file your return for free using one of the IRS Free File websites.
Top Picks for Tax Preparation Software
Choosing the right tax software can be tricky. Read objective reviews of various tax preparation software programs to find the right software for you.
Quick Links to IRS Tax Forms
Find tax forms to prepare your personal income taxes. Links to the most common tax forms are gathered here on one page.
IRS Form 1040 in PDF format
Download IRS Form 1040EZ in the Adobe Acrobat format.
IRS Instructions for Form 1040 in PDF format
Download the official IRS instructions for Form 1040 in the Adobe Acrobat format.
IRS Publication 17 (PDF format)
Download the official IRS tax guide, Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, in the Adobe Acrobat format.
Getting Ready - Preparing Your 1040 Step 1
Preparing your taxes can be taxing – not to mention exhausting! Fortunately, there's some tricks to making tax time a little less frustrating. Get ready to prepare your taxes with these tips.
Choosing Your Filing Status
When preparing a tax return, a taxpayer chooses one filing status from among five options. The filing status is determined by whether a person is married or unmarried, and by whether a person has a dependent. Filing status determines which standard deduction and which tax rates apply.
Dependents & Personal Exemptions - Preparing Your 1040 Step 3
You may claim a personal exemption for yourself and for your dependents. You cannot claim an exemption for yourself if someone else can claim you as a dependent. You can claim an exemption for each dependent listed on your tax return. You are entitled to claim a person as a dependent if you meet five critical tests.
Income - Preparing Your 1040 Step 4
How to report various types of income on your Form 1040.
Adjustments to Income - Preparing Your 1040 Step 5
How to calculate and claim various tax deductions known as "above-the-line" deductions or adjustments to income. These deductions directly reduce your income, and you don't need to itemize. Line-by-line instructions for Form 1040 lines 23 to 34.
Tax Deductions & Figuring Your Tax - Preparing Your 1040 Step 6
Make the most of your tax deductions. Take the larger of your standard deduction or your itemized deductions. Tips for figuring your tax liability.
Tax Credits - Preparing Your 1040 Step 7
Claiming tax credits is an important step in reducing your taxes. Find out about the tax credits you may qualify for.
Other Taxes - Preparing Your 1040 Step 8
Other taxes you may owe include the self-employment tax, additional taxes on unreported tips, additional taxes on the early withdrawal of retirement funds, the advance earned income credit, and household employment taxes. Just like tax credits reward certain activities, additional taxes increase the cost of various activities. The most common additional taxes are for early withdrawal of retirement savings before age 59-1/2 and self-employment taxes for independent contractors and freelancers.
Payments - Preparing Your 1040 Step 9
How to report various tax payments on your Form 1040 lines 63 through 70.
Getting a Refund or Paying a Balance Due - Preparing Your 1040 Step 10
How to figure your tax refund or balance due on Form 1040 lines 71 through 74. Plus tips on getting your refund safely and quickly, or how to pay off your tax bill quickly over a few months.
Finishing Up Your Tax Return - Preparing Your 1040 Step 11
After you finished calculating your 2004 taxes, use these easy-to-follow steps to finish your tax return.
Form 1040 Line 7 Wages
How to fill out your 1040 line 7 for wage income.
Form 1040 Line 8 Interest
How to fill out your 1040 line 8 for interest income.
Form 1040 Line 9 Dividends
How to fill out Form 1040 line 9, dividend income. Reporting ordinary and qualified dividends.
Form 1040 Line 10 Taxable Refunds
How to fill out Form 1040 line 10, taxable refunds. Reporting last year's state tax refund on this year's return, and how to calculate the taxable amount.
Form 1040 Line 12 Business Income
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 12, business income. Reporting your net profit or loss from self-employment.
Form 1040 Line 14 Ordinary Gains
How to fill out your 1040 line 14, ordinary gains. Figuring and reporting your ordinary gains and ordinary losses from the sale of business property.
Form 1040 Line 15 IRA Distributions
How to fill out Form 1040 line 15, IRA distributions. Figuring and reporting non-taxable and taxable Individual Retirement Account distributions, withdrawals, and rollovers.
Form 1040 Line 16 Pensions and Annuities
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 16, pension and annuity income. Figuring and reporting your non-taxable and taxable pensions.
Form 1040 Line 17 Rental Income, Royalties, Pass-Through Income
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 17 to report various passive income amounts. Reporting rental income, royalties, and pass-through income from partnerships, S-Corporations, and trusts.
Form 1040 Line 18 Farm income
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 18, farm income. Reporting your net profit or net loss from farming activities.
Form 1040 Line 19 Unemployment Income
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 19, unemployment income. Reporting your unemployment compensation.
Form 1040 Line 20 Social Security Benefits
How to fill out your Form 1040 line 20, Social Security benefits. Reporting your non-taxable and taxable Social Security income.
Form 1040 Line 57 Self Employment Tax
How to calculate your self-employment tax on Schedule SE using the short method or long method.
Form 1040 Line 58 Social Security Medicare Tax on Tip Income Form 4137
Instructions for preparing Form 4137 and Form 1040 Line 58. Plus strategies for protecting yourself against erroneous allocated tips, and what to expect from the IRS when you have allocated tips.
Early Distributions from Retirement Plans
If you withdraw money from a traditional individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plan before you turn age 59 1/2, you may be subject to an early distribution penalty of 10%. There are exceptions. Here's what you need to know about the early distribution tax.
Form 1040 Line 60 Advance Earned Income Credit
Advance Earned Income Credit Payments are payments of part of your Earned Income Tax Credit received through your paycheck. The total of your advance is shown on your W-2 wage statement in box 9. Look at your W-2 statement, box 9. If there are any amounts, you must report them on Form 1040 Line 60.
Form 1040 Line 61 Household Employment Taxes Schedule H
If you employ someone to work in your home as a domestic servant, you may be required to pay various household employment taxes. This is the so-called "nanny tax." Basically, you are an employer, and you are required to pay Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment taxes just like any other employer. You calculate your employment taxes on Schedule H, which is attached to your Form 1040.