What Is a 1040 Tax Form and How Does It Work?

The 1040 tax form is the form taxpayers use for filing federal taxes. It’s also a form that plenty of people have trouble filling out or understanding.

In fact, back in 2018, Form 1040 received an overhaul designed to make it shorter and less confusing. But many experts say it didn’t work out that way.

“The IRS tried to reduce the form to postcard size, but this required additional schedules to be attached. And every year after that, the tax form gets expanded,” Abby Eisenkraft, an enrolled agent and CEO of Choice Tax Solutions Inc. in New York City, says.

In addition, tax law changes from year to year add complexity. “It’s definitely hard to keep all of the changes straight,” Eisenkraft adds.

Keep reading to find out everything you should know about Form 1040 for tax year 2023.

What Is IRS Form 1040?

Form 1040 is a federal income tax form that most people use each year to report their tax information to the IRS. Taxpayers fill out the form, listing their income and any tax deductions or credits they’re eligible to claim. The completed 1040 will also include the taxpayer’s refund or tax liability amount.

[Related:Tax Credits vs. Tax Deductions]

Other Types of 1040 Forms

There are several types of IRS 1040 forms, which may or may not apply to your situation:

Form 1040-NR. You may need to fill this one out if you’re not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and don’t have a green card, haven’t met the IRS requirement known as the “substantial presence test,” or engaged in a trade or business in the U.S. If you represent someone deceased (or an estate or trust) who would have had to fill out this form, you may also need to complete this.

Form 1040-ES. Self-employed individuals and freelancers who pay estimated quarterly taxes use this form. You’ll be using this form to figure out and pay your estimated tax payments in 2024.

Form 1040-X.If you made a mistake on a 1040 you previously filed, you can make changes on Form 1040-X.

Form 1040-SR. Those 65 and older can use this form. It’s optional but has larger print and a chart designed to help taxpayers calculate their standard deductions. Otherwise, it’s exactly like a Form 1040.

Form 1040-V. This form is a payment voucher that you send to the IRS if you have a balance due on the “amount you owe” line of Form 1040 or 1040-NR or a 1040-SR.

Before you fill out a Form 1040, make sure you have your W-2 form, which contains your earnings information. If you’re a freelancer or had a side hustle throughout the year, you may have a Form 1099 (or multiple) that shows your earnings information.

On the 1040, the first seven lines are all income-related questions. You’ll need to provide information like interest and dividends you’ve earned, income from pensions and annuities, IRA distributions and Social Security benefits.

“And even if you didn’t receive a 1099 for your freelance work, all income is reportable,” Eisenkraft says. “Remember, we pay tax on worldwide income unless there is something specifically in the tax code that doesn’t include it.”

[Related:I Have to Pay Taxes on That?]

What Is the Difference Between 1040EZ, 1040A and 1040?

The IRS no longer uses Forms 1040EZ or 1040A. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, consolidated the 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ into a single and redesigned Form 1040.

What Is From 1040-SR?

Form 1040-SR is relatively new.

“It’s available for use for those 65 or older, with an increased font size, but those with more complicated tax situations will have to use the regular Form 1040,” Eisenkraft says.

Who Should Fill Out IRS Form 1040?

Anyone who files taxes should fill out Form 1040.

“Most taxpayers will only have to file a Form 1040 with no schedules,” says Shann Chaudhry, a San Antonio-based business and estate attorney.Taxpayers with income from more than one job, for example, will need to file out additional forms.

Where Can I Get Tax Year 2023 Form 1040?

You can find Form 1040 for the 2023 tax year on the IRS website. Additionally, tax software programs, tax preparers and even your local library might have the form.

What to Know About 1040 Schedules

Your 1040 will come with a number of schedules — like Schedule 1 and Schedule A — that are additional forms. You can think of the 1040 like a math worksheet: You plug in various numbers from a schedule (Form 1040 will tell you which one to use) and add the schedules’ totals to your Form 1040.

Form 1040 packs in a lot of information, and every year, there are changes to it, many of them subtle. A few areas to pay particular attention to this year include:

Charitable deductions. Generally, charitable contributions go on Schedule A, which you use to claim itemized deductions. But many people don’t itemize since it became more financially advantageous for them to claim the standard deduction, which the IRS doubled in 2018.

Cryptocurrency.The IRS will ask about cryptocurrencies, but they’ll refer to cryptocurrency as a digital asset. On the Form 1040 that you’ll fill out this year to file your 2023 taxes, it asks: “At any time during 2023, did you: (a) receive (as a reward, award or payment for property or services); or (b) sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of a digital asset (or a financial interest in a digital asset)?”

Don’t Rush the 1040 Tax Form

It may be tempting to rush filing your taxes, especially if you’re racing the clock to meet the April 15 deadline. But that’s how you’re likely to make errors.

“The tax laws change every year, as does the Form 1040,” Eisenkraft says. “It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the federal and state law changes to avoid issues.”

And, of course, if you work with a tax preparation software program that’s aware of those issues, or a tax preparer who is on top of everything, all the better.

More from U.S. News

Tax Credits vs. Tax Deductions

Do You Owe the IRS? How to Find Out

What Is Zero-Based Budgeting?

What Is a 1040 Tax Form and How Does It Work? originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 04/04/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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