Which 2012 Federal Tax Forms Do I Need?

| December 20, 2012

which IRS tax form to use Although it only comes only once a year, many of us still dread tax time. It’s a chore we put off as long as possible – sometimes right up until that April deadline. Why? No one likes filling out forms, especially when it can take more than an hour to do it. The easiest way to get through it, though, is by filling out the simplest of the 2012 federal tax forms you can. Let’s look at the basic tax forms, as well as which forms you need to have in order to fill out your taxes. If you would rather have a professional fill out your 2012 IRS forms or offer advice, DexKnows can help you find a tax preparer, certified public accountant or tax attorney in your community.

Which 2012 federal tax form do you need?

There are three basic federal tax forms: 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, which will be released for 2012 once the IRS completes its revisions and approves the final versions. Which one you choose depends on the complexity of your finances.

Form 1040EZ

The IRS states that the easiest to fill out is Form 1040EZ. The federal tax form “Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents” can be used if your taxable income is less than $100,000 and you have no dependents to claim.

You can use it if you only have the following to report:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Tips
  • Taxable scholarship and fellowship grants
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Qualified state tuition program earnings
  • Alaska Permanent Fund dividends

Other criteria include:

  • Under 65 as of Jan. 1, 2012, and not blind at the end of 2011
  • No household employment taxes on wages paid to a household employee
  • Not a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after Oct. 16, 2005
  • Not claiming additional standard deduction for real estate taxes, net disaster losses or qualified motor vehicle taxes
  • Not claiming a student loan interest deduction, educator expense deduction or a tuition and fees deduction
  • Not claiming an education credit, retirement savings contribution credit or health coverage tax credit

Basically, other than the earned income tax credit, Form 1040EZ does not allow you to itemize deductions or claim adjustments to income or tax credits. If your income is simple enough, this is the form for you; but if not, you could be missing out on some tax breaks.

Form 1040A

The 2012 federal tax form “U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” or Form 1040A, is dubbed “the short form” by the IRS. The agency states that it is the most widely used of the three forms.

Like Form 1040EZ, your taxable income must be less than $100,000. You cannot itemize deductions, and your only adjustments to income can be the IRA deduction, student loan interest deduction, educator expenses deduction, and tuition and fees deduction.

You can claim income from:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Tips
  • Taxable scholarships and fellowship grants, interest, or ordinary dividends
  • Capital gains distributions
  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • IRAs
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Taxable Social Security or railroad retirement benefits
  • Alaska Permanent Fund dividends

The IRS states that you can use Form 1040A if you received advanced income credit payments, dependent care benefits, or if you owe tax from the recapture of an education credit or the alternative minimum tax.

Form 1040A allows you to claim the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the earned income credit, credit for the elderly or disabled, education credits, child tax credit, additional child tax credit and retirement savings contribution credit.

This form is the jack-of-all-trades of tax forms for the general public, but you may want to check out Form 1040, just in case.

Form 1040

Form 1040 is the IRS’s “long form.” It’s the 2012 federal tax form to use if your taxable income is $100,000 or more.

It allows you to report certain types of income, including:

  • Unreported tips
  • Certain nontaxable distributions
  • Self-employment earnings
  • Income received as a partner, shareholder in an S corporation, or beneficiary of an estate or trust

You may itemize deductions and claim tax credits and adjustments to income. It’s also the IRS form to use if you owe household employment taxes.

If you feel your taxes are more complex or you have any doubt whether you are getting all of your tax savings, use Form 1040.

Other tax paperwork needed

In order to do your taxes, these are the other forms needed. Unlike the federal tax forms you fill out, these are the forms with the data you need to complete your taxes.


The W-2 records your income for the year and what federal, state and local taxes you’ve paid. It’s what your employer gives you.


Do work on the side? If you do freelance or contract work, expect to receive 1099s reporting how much income you received.

You receive a 1099-INT if you have interest savings accounts through a bank and have interest to report.


The 1098 shows how much mortgage interest you paid to your lender.

The 1098-E reports how much student loan interest you paid.

Be sure to use the right tax forms

Using the right forms can simplify the tax process. But if you still feel overwhelmed, consider getting professional help. DexKnows is the place to go to find tax preparers, certified public accountants and tax lawyers in your neighborhood.

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Category: Accountants & Tax Preparers, Taxes

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Central Ohio journalist with 15 years experience at daily newspapers. Freelance writer and amateur photographer. Storytellers are my heroes, poets my idols and photographers my looking glass.