Your Guide to Tax Forms
If none of the situations described under the 1040 or 1040A section apply to you, then you have simple finances, and need a simple form. This form has the most self-explanatory name. It’s easy! It’s generally used by younger people with a job with a steady paycheck.
Use this if:
- Your filing status is single or married filing jointly (find out what your filing status is).
- You aren’t claiming any dependents.
- Your income includes only wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.
- Your taxable income is less than $100,000 (Find out what your taxable income is.)
- Your earned tips, if any, are included in boxes 5 and 7 on your W-2 form.
- The only credit you are claiming is the earned income credit.
Finish: Pick Your Additional Forms
Once you choose your 1040, you might need to fill out additional forms. Here are the most common ones:
If You’re Itemizing: Schedule A
This schedule is for those who will itemize their taxes. Find out if you should itemize.
If You Had Interest and Dividends: Schedule B
This form is for taxable interest (like from a savings account) and dividend income (from your investments).
Use this if: Your taxable interest and dividend income exceeds $1,500.
If You Are Self-Employed: Schedule SE and Schedule C
These two forms are for people who are in business for themselves, among other situations. The schedule SE calculates the self-employment tax you owe, while the Schedule C addresses taxes specific to your business. You’ll need to fill them both out.
Use these forms if:
- You have income that isn’t withheld. For example, as a freelancer, you won’t have income withheld for taxes every time you receive a check from a project.
- You own your own business.
- You received income from dividends, interest, capital gains, rents or royalties.
- You did not elect voluntary withholding on your salary, unemployment income or Social Security benefits.
If You Are Simply Self-Employed: Schedule C-EZ
If you’re a freelance graphic designer or writer, you have a pretty simple business and can use a simplified form instead of the Schedule C above.
Use this form if:
- Your business expenses are $5,000 or less
- You only have one business
- You did not make a net loss
- You have no employees
- You have no inventory (sorry Etsy sellers, you need the more complicated form, Schedule C)
- You are not using depreciation or deducting the cost of your home