What To Know About IRS Form 1040

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires individuals to file their federal income tax returns through Form 1040. This form is a two-page document that discloses personal information and detailed financial information used to determine your annual federal income tax obligation.

Thomas Brock, CFA, CPA, expert contributor to Annuity.org
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    Thomas J. Brock, CFA®, CPA

    Thomas J. Brock, CFA®, CPA

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    Thomas Brock, CFA®, CPA, is a financial professional with over 20 years of experience in investments, corporate finance and accounting. He currently oversees the investment operation for a $4 billion super-regional insurance carrier.

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  • Updated: March 20, 2023
  • 8 min read time
  • This page features 9 Cited Research Articles
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APA Brock, T. J. (2023, March 20). What To Know About IRS Form 1040. Annuity.org. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://www.annuity.org/personal-finance/taxes/irs-form-1040/

MLA Brock, Thomas J. "What To Know About IRS Form 1040." Annuity.org, 20 Mar 2023, https://www.annuity.org/personal-finance/taxes/irs-form-1040/.

Chicago Brock, Thomas J. "What To Know About IRS Form 1040." Annuity.org. Last modified March 20, 2023. https://www.annuity.org/personal-finance/taxes/irs-form-1040/.

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Key Takeaways
  • Form 1040 is used by individual taxpayers to file their federal taxes on an annual basis.
  • For each tax filer, Form 1040 discloses personal information, reportable income, deductions and credits claimed, taxable income, total tax and the outstanding obligation or refundable amount.
  • There are many supplemental schedules that support Form 1040. Depending on your situation, you may need to file some of them with Form 1040.

What Is IRS Form 1040?

Form 1040, which is officially titled “Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” is an IRS form used by individuals to file their annual federal income tax returns. It’s a detailed two-page document with a myriad of supporting forms and schedules.

Most individuals are required to file Form 1040 on an annual basis, but there are some exceptions. Whether you file your own taxes or enlist the assistance of a tax professional, it’s important to understand the use of Form 1040.

Who Needs To File Form 1040?

The IRS requires individuals with gross income of certain levels to file a Form 1040. As illustrated below, the income threshold varies based on filing status and age.

If your filing status is…And at the end of 2022 you were*…Then file a return if your gross income* was at least…
SingleUnder 65

65 or older

Married filing jointly*Under 65 (both spouses)

65 or older (one spouse)

65 or older (both spouses)


Married filing separatelyAny age$5
Head of householdUnder 65

65 or older

Qualifying surviving spouseUnder 65

65 or older


*Exceptions apply. Refer to the IRS instructions to determine whether the exceptions apply to you.

Children and other dependents may not be required to file a Form 1040 if they can be claimed on the tax return of another individual. However, the dependent’s unearned income, earned income and gross income must fall below certain thresholds. The thresholds vary based on the dependent’s age, marriage status and whether they are blind.

Regardless of income, age or dependency status, you must file a Form 1040 if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • You owe additional special taxes, such as alternative minimum tax
  • You received distributions from a health savings account (HSA) or other tax-advantaged health account
  • You had self-employment earnings of at least $400
  • You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • You received advance premium tax credit payments and received a Form 1095-A
  • You are required to include amounts in income under section 965 or you have a net tax liability under section 965 that you are paying in installments under section 965(h) or deferred by making an election under section 965(i)

What You Need To Fill Out Form 1040

At a high level, Form 1040 contains sections that capture the following information.

What You'll Need
  • Personal information, including your full legal name, date of birth and Social Security number or tax identification number (you also need this information for your spouse and dependents, if applicable) and your primary home address
  • Reportable income by source
  • Tax deductions and credits claimed

Tax deductions are provisions that indirectly reduce your tax obligation by reducing taxable income. Tax credits, on the other hand, are provisions that directly reduce the amount of tax you owe. As a result, credits are usually more economically beneficial than deductions.

Ultimately, your inputs are used to determine your taxable income and the associated total tax. Then, after accounting for any tax withheld from your earnings and any payments made, you can compute your outstanding tax obligation or refundable amount.

While this is a simplistic recap, filling out Form 1040 can be complex. This is especially true for individuals with personal finances that involve multiple streams of income and the ability to claim a variety of deductions or credits. If you intend to prepare your own taxes, be sure to methodically reference the 2022 Instructions for Form 1040 along the way.

How To File Form 1040

In 2023, you have until April 18 to file Form 1040. You can do so manually with a pen and printed form, but most taxpayers elect to file electronically.

The IRS Free File program, available only through the IRS website, offers eligible taxpayers brand name tax preparation software packages for free. Some of the packages can also be used to file your state return for free. The software does all the work for you; you just have to answer a series of questions and input pertinent information when prompted.

If you’re comfortable preparing your own taxes, you can use the IRS’ Free File Fillable Forms, regardless of your income. No guidance is provided, and the calculations are limited. Nevertheless, this approach is more efficient than the pen and paper method, and it enables you to submit your return via mail or electronically.

If you pay a tax professional to do your taxes, they will take care of everything and utilize whatever software is deemed appropriate. Then, at the end of the process, you will receive a paper or electronic copy of your entire tax return, inclusive of any supplemental schedules required.

Form 1040 Supplemental Schedules

Supplemental schedules don’t apply to everyone, but they are widely utilized. Generally, as the complexity of your finances increase, so will the number of supplement schedules you are required to file. The most common schedules, all of which feed Form 1040, are listed below.

Schedule 1

Schedule 1 is used to report additional income or adjustments to income. This includes things like alimony income, business income, rental income, health savings account (HSA) contributions and unemployment compensation.

Schedule 2

Schedule 2 is used to report additional taxes. It is used when you owe alternative minimum tax, repayment of excess advance premium tax credits, self-employment taxes, additional tax on tax-advantaged retirement accounts, additional Medicare tax or household employment taxes.

Schedule 3

Schedule 3 is used to report additional tax credits and payments. Commonly claimed credits include the foreign tax credit, dependent care expense credit, retirement savings contributions credit and various residential energy credits and educational credits.

Additional Schedules

Several other common supplemental schedules are summarized below.

Schedule AUsed to figure out a taxpayer’s itemized deductions, which is an alternative to the standardized deduction
Schedule BUsed to report taxable interest and ordinary dividends
Schedule CUsed to report profit or loss from a business
Schedule DUsed to report capital gains and losses realized from the sale or exchange of a capital asset
Schedule EUsed to report various types of supplemental income and loss
Schedule FUsed to report profit or loss from farming operations
Schedule JUsed to report farming or fishing trade income
Schedule SEUsed to report the tax due on earning from self-employment
Source: Internal Revenue Service

Additional Types of 1040 Forms

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is the standard form that most taxpayers use each year. However, as outlined below, there are a few other 1040 forms that may apply to you.

Form 1040-ES

Form 1040-ES is used to help self-employed individuals and those who earn significant amounts of money from non-employment sources, such as investments in real estate and financial securities, to calculate their estimated quarterly taxes.

Form 1040-NR

Form 1040-NR is designed for nonresident aliens engaged in business or trade within the U.S., representatives of deceased persons who would have been obligated to file the form and representatives of estates and trusts required to file the form.

Form 1040-SR

Form 1040-SR is relatively new. It’s for people aged 65 and older. It uses the same schedules and instructions as Form 1040 but presents things in an easier to read format. It also has an embedded standard deduction table to make it easier for older taxpayers that do not itemize their deductions to claim the appropriate standard deduction.

Form 1040-V

Form 1040-V is a payment voucher you send with your check or money order for any balance reported on the “amount you owe” line of your Form 1040 or 1040-NR. If you make your payment electronically, this form is not required.

Form 1040-X

Form 1040-X is used when you need to file an amended tax return. It is used to correct errors made on your initial filing, make certain elections after the deadline and make a claim for a carryback due to a loss of or unused credit.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Form 1040

Where can you find Form 1040?
The easiest way to find Form 1040 is through the IRS’ official website. Additionally, many public courthouses, post offices and libraries in your community have paper copies available.
Is Form 1040 different from a W-2?
A W-2 is an earnings statement prepared by your employer and submitted to you and the IRS. The information on a W-2 is used to populate Form 1040, which is used to file your annual income tax return with the IRS.
What is the difference between Form 1040 and Form 1099?
The 1099 forms are issued to report over two dozen types of income distributions, including self-employment earnings, interest and dividends, capital gains and losses, and annuity payments. Like a W-2, the information on a 1099 is used to populate Form 1040, which is used to file your annual income tax return with the IRS.

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Last Modified: March 20, 2023

9 Cited Research Articles

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  1. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 30). IRS Free File: Do your Taxes for Free. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free
  2. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 27). About Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040
  3. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 27). About Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040-sr
  4. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 26). Credits and Deductions. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/credits-and-deductions
  5. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 25). Free File Fillable Forms. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/free-file-fillable-forms
  6. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 18). About Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040-nr
  7. Internal Revenue Service. (2023, January 5). About Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040x
  8. Internal Revenue Service. (2022, September 23). About Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040-es
  9. Internal Revenue Service. (2022, August 26). About Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040-v