Following is a basic overview of the 2012 federal tax forms. The 1040 and 1040A are more complex than the EZ and often require additional paperwork, so before you begin, you should seek expert advice — visit the Dex listings for a qualified accountant near you. The general rule of thumb with 2012 IRS forms is to use the simplest one available for your needs.
The 1040EZ is the easiest to fill out and file, and it’s right for you if:
- You don’t claim any dependents
- Your taxable income is below $100,000
- You’re not claiming itemized deductions or an income adjustment
- Your filing status is either single or married filing jointly
There’s more. The IRS offers complete details on the 1040EZ along with the latest revisions, an agency help line and downloadable forms.
The 1040A is also known as the “short form.” As with the 1040EZ, your taxable income must be less than $100,000 and you’re not able to itemize deductions.
However, with this form you can also:
- Claim several tax credits, including child and dependent care, education and retirement savings contributions
- Claim income adjustments related to your IRA, student loan interest and more
The 1040A is appropriate for people of just about any age or filing status who meet these requirements. Visit IRS.gov for downloadable forms, updates to filing instructions and a history of form revisions.
If you make more than $100,000 per year, itemize deductions, owe household employment taxes and/or earn income from other sources, such as a business or trust fund, you’ll probably need to fill out Form 1040 (also called the “long form”). It’s a lot more involved than the 1040EZ and 1040A, but it also covers a wide spectrum of tax situations, earnings, deductions and credits.
A menu of downloadable forms, recent tax developments and where to go for more information is available at the IRS site.
Another variation of the 1040 is the ES, which you may need to file if your earnings, such as freelance income, aren’t subject to the withholding requirements of a salaried employee. Instead of paying taxes in arrears every year, most independent contractors and freelancers need to estimate their income and pay every quarter. Read about estimated taxes, 1040-ES forms, tools and more at the IRS website.
Schedules and other forms
If you’re filing a 1040 or 1040A, you’ll usually need to add attachments or Schedules for your deductions and credits. These include, but are not limited to:
- Form 2441 — child and dependent care expenses
- Schedule A – itemized deductions
- Schedule D – capital gains
- Schedule R – credit for the disabled or elderly
April 15 will be here before you know it, so grab a cup of coffee, gather your shoebox full of receipts and check out this Accountant Resource Guide from Dex.