Use our 1040 instructions guide to learn all about what it is and how to use it when filing taxes each year.
Most taxpayers will need some 1040 instructions because this form is one of the most basic tax forms. But did you know there were different versions of this document?
Not only are there different versions of the 1040, but there are also additional documents that often work alongside this form as an attachment.
Understanding the difference between the many different tax forms and how they're used can be a hassle. But knowing the differences is an important step to making sure you follow 1040 instructions correctly.
What is a 1040?
Before you start working through the 1040 instructions, you should learn a bit about this form. A 1040 is a tax form that can also be referred to as the Individual Income Tax Return. This is the form individuals use to file their annual tax returns.
This tax form is the primary document used to file your return. This document is where individuals will report their income, any additional income, and estimated tax payments.
Many individuals use tax professionals or tax software that fills out this form for them. This saves you the hassle of following 1040 instructions. But by knowing how to follow 1040 instructions, you can fill out this form yourself and then learn where to mail the 1040 so the IRS gets it.
Step 1: Which 1040 Do I Use?
There are several different versions of the 1040 you might need to know about in order to accurately follow 1040 instructions. If you are paper filing to mail your taxes to the IRS, you should use the simplest version that you qualify for. Then, make sure to follow that 1040's instructions.
The 1040 Tax Form
The 1040 tax form is the primary version of this document and is used by anyone with a combined income over $50,000, with itemized deductions, self-employment income, independent contractor income, and income from property sales.
But, depending on your specific financial and tax situation, you may qualify to use one of the following 1040 versions instead.
The 1040 A Tax Form
The 1040 A tax form was discontinued after the 2017 tax year. It was a version made for anyone with a combined income below $50,000 with only capital gain distributions and no other capital gains or losses.
The 1040 EZ Tax Form
The 1040 EZ tax form was discontinued after the 2018 tax year. It was a shorter, simpler version made for individuals who were filing single or married filing jointly with no dependents.
The 1040 ES Tax Form
The 1040 ES tax form is a version made for calculating the estimated tax individuals need to pay.
Self-employment, interest, dividend, rent, alimony, unemployment, and Social Security benefits income are all considered taxable income. But often these income types don't have an employer already withholding taxes for you.
So instead, you'll use this form to figure out your estimated income tax payments for these types of income.
The 1040 SR Tax Form
Form 1040 SR is a version made for taxpayers who are 65 years old or older. This form is essentially the same as the basic 1040 but is made with larger type and boxes for easier reading.
The 1040 NR Tax Form
The 1040 NR tax form is a version made for nonresident alien individuals, estates, and trusts. If you are a nonresident but you live or work in the US for a large part of the year, then you may be eligible to use this form to file your taxes.
The 1040 X Tax Form
The 1040 X tax form is a version made to correct previous returns. So, if you make a mistake on your taxes, but don't realize your mistake until after you've filed, you can file this form to correct the mistake.
Step 2: Form Filling 1040 Instructions
Follow these simple 1040 instructions to know exactly how to file your taxes this year. These 1040 instructions are especially helpful if you are filing taxes manually.
Step 1: Fill out the Filing Status section. This very first box wants you to check the box that matches your tax filing status and provide your personal contact information.
Step 2: Answer the question in the Digital Assets box for whether you received, sold, exchanged, gifted, or otherwise disposed of any digital assets.
Step 3: Fill out the Standard Deduction section. Here you'll indicate whether someone can claim you or your spouse as a dependent, among other things.
Step 4: Fill out the Dependents section. Here you'll outline any dependents you would like to claim.
Step 5: Fill out the Income section. Here you'll outline all sources of income next to their respective form numbers. You'll calculate your adjusted gross income on the 1040 here too. You can find these income numbers on tax forms you should receive in January or early February like your W2 form.
Step 6: Fill out the Tax and Credits section. Here you'll find boxes for calculating things like tax credits.
Step 7: Fill out the Payments section. Here you'll fill out each box for things like different payments you've received.
Step 8: Fill out the Refund section. Here you'll calculate your tax refund.
Step 9: Fill out the Amount You Owe section. Here you'll calculate how much you owe in taxes.
Step 10: Fill out the Third Party Designee section. Here you'll outline whether you want to allow another person to discuss your taxes return with the IRS.
Step 11: Fill out the Sign Here section. Now you're done! Sign accordingly and mail your 1040 to the IRS. There may be other tax documents you also need to include when mailing in your return.
What line is AGI on the 1040?
Adjusted gross income (AGI) is your gross income, but with certain deductions and adjustments taken out. Where is AGI on the 1040 located?
The AGI is on line 11 of the 1040. Lines 9 and 10 also help calculate your total adjusted gross income. Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is not included here.
Now that you know the step-by-step guide to 1040 instructions, you can move on to any attachments you might need to include.
Step 3: Other 1040's You Might Need
There are different versions of the 1040 that each have their own 1040 instructions, but there are also additional forms you may that also each have their own 1040 instructions to follow.
The 1040 Schedule A Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule A is an additional form that reports your itemized deductions. You'll use this form to calculate all of your itemized deductions.
The 1040 Schedule B Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule B is an additional form that calculates your income from interest and dividends.
The 1040 Schedule C Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule C is an additional form that calculates business income, profits and losses.
The 1040 Schedule D Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule D is an additional form that reports income and losses from capital gains.
The 1040 Schedule E Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule E is an additional form that reports supplemental income and losses.
The 1040 Schedule H Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule H is an additional form that reports household employment taxes.
The 1040 Schedule SE Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule SE is an additional form that reports your self-employment taxes if you earn more than $400 in self-employment income.
The 1041 Schedule K-1 Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule K-1 is an additional form that reports your share of an estate or trust.
The 1040 Schedule 1 Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule 1 is an additional form that reports other types of income that might not appear on your main 1040.
The 1040 Schedule 2 Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule 2 is an additional form that reports additional taxes if you check the checkbox in box 11b.
The 1040 Schedule 3 Tax Form
The 1040 Schedule 3 is an additional form that reports capital gains if you check the checkbox in box 12b.
Follow these simple 1040 instructions if you want to file taxes yourself. But don't forget about the other versions of this form and any attachments you might need to include!
*This material is not intended to be a substitute for individual tax, legal, or accounting advice. We encourage you to seek the competent counsel of tax professionals to make sure your return is accurate and appropriately filed.