Tax Basics:

Which Form to File?


The 1040EZ is the simplest and shortest of the three types of forms you may use. The 1040EZ does not have as many lines to fill out nor does it have as many schedules to fill out and attach as the other forms. You don't even have to compute the math if you do not want to. The IRS will do it for you! All you have to do is fill out the lines that apply to you in lines 1 through 8 and send it in. You may however choose to compute it yourself as it is not that difficult on this form. After all, even the IRS makes mistakes.

You can file a 1040EZ if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are single or married filing jointly and do not have any dependents
  • Your only income is from wages, tips, salaries, taxable scholarships, unemployment compensation and fellowship grants--and you do not have more than $400 in taxable interest income
  • You and your spouse if filing jointly are under the age of 65 and are not blind
  • Your taxable income is less than $50,000
  • You aren?t receiving any advanced earned income credits. You can verify this by checking box 9 of your W-2.
  • You are not itemizing deductions or claiming any adjustments to income (IRA or student loan interest deductions) or tax credits (such as childcare expenses.)


The 1040A is not as simple as the 1040EZ although it is nowhere near as time-consuming and complex as the 1040 can be. You may use the 1040A if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are not itemizing deductions
  • Your taxable income is less than $50,000
  • Your income is only from salaries, wages, tips, taxable scholarships, fellowship grants, pensions or annuities, withdrawals from your IRA, unemployment compensation, interest and dividends

You may use 1040A to claim all of the following:

  • Earned income credit
  • Deduction for contributions to an IRA
  • Nondeductible contributions to an IRA
  • Credit for child and dependent care expenses
  • Child tax credits
  • Educations credits
  • Adoption credit
  • Student loan interest deduction

If you do not fit the criteria to file either a 1040EZ or a 1040A, you are unfortunately stuck using the 1040, otherwise known as the long form. Anyone who chooses to itemize his deductions as opposed to taking the standard deduction must use the 1040. Likewise, anyone who owns rental property, is self-employed or sells stocks or bonds are also stuck with the 1040. In using this form, you are required to fill out more lines, fill out and attach more schedules and spend more time computing your taxes than with either of the two simpler forms.


This is the form you would use to file an amended tax return.