The Internal Revenue Service requires most working individuals to file their taxes by the April 15th tax due date. IRS Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Tax Return Form) is one of the many available forms for filing taxes. Following the instructions for this form will help individuals, not corporations or partnerships, to successfully file their taxes. While this two-page form is not as easy to fill out as form 1040EZ, but if the tax filer takes it one section at a time, it won’t be difficult to complete.
- Fill in the demographic information. The demographic information includes basic taxpayer info such as name address zip code and Social Security number. Make sure to write everything legibly. Writing legibly reduces the chance of someone with a similar Social Security number receiving your tax refund.
- Select your filing status. You may only select one of the five available filing statuses. You my file your taxes as a single individual, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or a widow/widower.
- Notify the government of your exemptions/dependents. With each exemption you must be able to include the full name, Social Security number and the relationship between you and your dependent. If you don’t have the Social Security number for one of your dependents, you won’t be able to claim him.
- Insert your income. To do this you must refer to a tax forms mailed to you by your employer or from the organization from which you earned income. The income tax forms include W-2’s, 1099’s, W-2G or any other form which indicates you earned income during the tax year. Insert the total of your earned income on line 22 of form 1040.
- Calculate your adjusted gross income. This is calculated by subtracting qualified expenses from your income. Qualified expenses include but are not limited to moving expenses, tuition fees, health savings accounts, self employment tax and more. Once you have deducted the expenses from your income write your adjusted gross income on 37.
- Take the appropriate tax credit. Here is where you get to take deductions that will reduce your tax liability. Whether you choose to itemize your deductions or take the standard deduction, this section is where you will enter that figure. Additionally, you may deduct credit for child care, retirement savings contributions and foreign tax credit. Once you calculated your tax credits, placed the sum of on line 60.
- Summarize your pre paid taxes. Your W-2 will indicate the amount of taxes withheld form your paycheck throughout the year. This and any other taxes that you paid through the year must be totaled and entered on line 71.
- Compare what you should pay (line 60) against what you have paid (line 71) to see if you are due a refund or will have to pay the IRS. If line 60 is larger than line 71, then unfortunately, you owe the government money. Conversely, if line 71 is larger than line 60 you are due a refund.
- Date and sign form 1040 before submitting it to the IRS.
Give yourself ample to complete form 1040 and take a day or two to review it. It’s easier to catch potential errors with a clear mind.