What is a 1040 Form? How to File and the Different Types

what is a 1040 form

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or business owner looking to ace your taxes? Great news: the Internal Revenue Service makes filing an income tax return in 2024 easier than ever with the 1040 Form. So, what is a 1040 form?

While it may seem a bit complicated at first, this form is actually quite simple once you understand what goes into it and how to file accordingly. In this article, we’ll explore everything there is to know about the 1040 Form so that you can effectively fill it out, maximize your tax benefits and get paid!

What is a 1040 Form?

A 1040 form is an income tax return form used by individuals, partnerships, estates, and trusts to report their income, gains, losses, deductions, credits, and other tax-related information to the IRS.

This form is used for filing taxes for the previous year and must be submitted by April 15 of each year.

The 1040 form provides taxpayers with a comprehensive overview of their financial situation and allows them to calculate any estimated tax payments.

Along with the 1040 Form, taxpayers may also need to submit other forms, such as Form 5329 for IRAs and other tax-favored accounts or Form 8959 to determine any additional Medicare tax paid or withheld in addition to your regular Medicare taxes.

This insightful video by Dancing Wonders about IRS Form 1040 changes is an excellent supplement to this article. Be sure to check it out after reading!

What is the purpose of an IRS 1040 Tax form?

Have you ever wondered how to file taxes and what the purpose of an IRS 1040 tax form is? Let’s take a look at four things a 1040 form is used for:

  • Filing a federal income tax return. The IRS Form 1040 is the primary form used to file your federal income tax return each year. This form allows you to calculate your total taxable income for the fiscal year.
  • Determining taxes owed. To help you determine the taxes you will pay, the IRS Form 1040 includes a detailed schedule that allows you to report all of your income sources, deductions such as a student loan interest deduction, and tax credits.
  • Identifying tax benefits. Along with calculating your taxes owed, the 1040 Form also allows you to identify any potential tax credits or deductions you may be eligible for, such as medicare tax. This can help reduce your tax liability and save you money in the long run.
  • Scheduling payments. If you owe taxes for the year, you can use the 1040 Form to schedule your payment. Payments may be submitted electronically through the IRS website or by mail.

solopreneur filling out their 1040 Form

Who Fills Out an IRS 1040 Form?

While many taxpayers are familiar with the 1040 form and how to file it, you might be wondering who exactly fills out an IRS 1040 form. Next, we will look at four different taxpayers that may use a 1040 Form.

  • Individuals. Individuals, including single filers and married couples filing separately, generally use the 1040 Form to file their tax returns each year. This form provides a way for them to report all of their income and tax deductions and calculate any taxes that are owed.
  • Partnerships. Partnerships, such as LLCs (limited liability companies) and S corporations, typically file a 1040 Form for each of their business partners. This helps to ensure that all parties are compliant with tax regulations and accurately report their income and deductions.
  • Estates and trusts. Estates and trusts, such as foundations, charities, and family trusts, are required to submit an annual tax return using the 1040 Form. This helps them to report income earned by the estate or trust, as well as any tax credits or deductions that may apply.
  • Non-profit organizations. Non-profit organizations, including charities, churches, and nonprofit groups, may also be required to file a 1040 Form each year. By doing so, they can report their total income and charitable deductions, which helps to ensure that they are complying with tax regulations.

How to File Your 1040 Tax Form

Filing tax forms is often tedious and confusing for many people trying to file their taxes. Let’s chat a little bit about how to properly file your 1040 Tax Form.

Download tax form 1040 here.

Step 1: Filing Status

In the Filing Status section, you will check the appropriate filing status for your tax purposes. Your options include single, married filing jointly, married filing separately (MFS), head of household (HOH), or qualifying surviving spouse (QSS).

Your basic information, such as your full legal name and that of your spouse, address, and Social Security numbers, should also be included here.

Step 2: Digital Assets

Gains from cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, such as stablecoins and nonfungible tokens (NFT) should be reported in this section.

Step 3: Standard Deductions

The standard deduction amount varies depending on your filing status – single, married filing jointly, or head of household, among others. If someone else can claim you as a dependent, your standard deduction may be lower.

It’s crucial to accurately determine your filing status and understand your eligibility for claiming deductions. Standard deduction amounts are adjusted annually for inflation, so it’s important to refer to the current year’s figures when filing.

Step 4: Dependents

When listing dependents, it’s important to meet certain IRS criteria for someone to be considered a dependent, affecting eligibility for tax credits. The criteria include relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests.

Dependents can qualify you for credits like the Child Tax Credit, Credit for Other Dependents, and potentially impact other areas of your tax return. Understanding these criteria is crucial for correctly claiming dependents and the associated tax benefits.

Step 5: Income (to include net investment income tax)

All your earnings for the year should be listed here, along with any adjustments that you are claiming. This is known as your adjusted gross income (AGI). Don’t forget to attach your W2 form. It is very important to find out everything you can about how to pay yourself as a business owner, along with all the tax ramifications.

Step 6: Tax and Credits

Next, you will list any credits or itemized deductions you would like to claim. Doing so may add a little bulk to your income tax return.

Step 7: Payments

In payments, you will list the total amount of federal income tax that was withheld for all tax forms, any amounts still owed from the previous year’s tax return, credits for most moderate to low-income people, and other refundable credits.

Step 8: Refund

This is the best part of the whole 1040 form. Your refund is calculated here! You will also provide your banking information in this section so that your refund can be directly deposited into your account.

Step 9: Amount You Owe

In some cases, the numbers don’t work out in your favor, and you will owe money for your taxes.

Step 10: Third-Party Designee

If you would like a third party to take a look at your tax return, such as a financial advisor or accountant, you can include their information in the space provided.

Step 11: Signature

Don’t forget to sign your return! Doing so could cause a delay in your refund.

Here’s a table that concisely lists the steps involved in properly filing your 1040 Tax Form:

Step NumberSectionDescription
Step 1Filing StatusSelect your appropriate filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying surviving spouse). Include basic information like names and social security numbers.
Step 2Digital AssetsReport gains from cryptocurrencies and other digital assets like stablecoins and NFTs.
Step 3Standard DeductionsIndicate your eligibility for standard deductions and whether you can be claimed as a dependent.
Step 4DependentsList qualifying dependents (parents, siblings, children, step-children) and check tax credit eligibility.
Step 5Income (incl. net investment income tax)Report all earnings and adjustments (adjusted gross income - AGI). Attach W2 forms.
Step 6Tax and CreditsList any tax credits or itemized deductions you wish to claim.
Step 7PaymentsReport federal income tax withheld, amounts owed from previous year, and refundable credits.
Step 8RefundCalculate your tax refund and provide banking information for direct deposit.
Step 9Amount You OweIf applicable, calculate and report the amount you owe for taxes.
Step 10Third-Party DesigneeIf desired, include information for a third-party to review your tax return.
Step 11SignatureSign your return to avoid delays in processing.

Please note that while this table provides a general overview of the steps involved in filing a 1040 Tax Form, it’s essential to consult the official IRS instructions and guidelines when preparing your tax return, as tax laws and regulations may change over time.

how to fill out 1040 Form

Form 1040 Variations: Helping You Choose the Best Tax Forms for Your Business

When it comes to filing your taxes as a business owner, there are many different tax forms available. Choosing the right one can be confusing but we are here to help.


The 1040-ES form should be used as proof of income for self-employed people, individuals who carry out freelance work, and those who receive income from sources other than their regular employment.

It would be prudent to research the best tax software for self-employed individuals to make sure it is done correctly. Make sure to also find out how to file self-employment taxes because the rules can be tricky.


The 1040-NR-EZ tax form should be used by non-residents who have income from interest, dividends, or royalties.


If you’re a non-U.S. citizen planning to leave the U.S. and run a sole proprietorship, you’ll likely encounter Form 1040-C. This form isn’t your final tax return, but it’s crucial for reporting your income for the whole tax year.

It’s like a preliminary snapshot of your taxable income and deductions. While it’s not the final word on your tax obligations, it’s an essential step in fulfilling your tax responsibilities before you bid adieu to the U.S. shores.

1040-PR for Puerto Rican Residents

Hola to the residents of Puerto Rico! Form 1040-PR is your go-to document for tax time. It’s specially designed for those living in Puerto Rico and primarily Spanish-speaking taxpayers.

This form includes Schedule L for self-employment tax and is key for claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit for your little ones. Just like a recipe, follow the form’s instructions to mix in your income details and deductions to cook up your tax return.

Form 1040-SS for U.S. Residents with Puerto Rican Income

For U.S. residents who’ve tapped into the economic streams of Puerto Rico, Form 1040-SS is your financial compass. This form, along with Schedule B, helps you declare any income you’ve made under the Puerto Rican sun.

Whether you’re self-employed on the island or have other income sources there, this form ensures your earnings are correctly reported. Think of it as a bridge connecting your U.S. tax responsibilities with your Puerto Rican income adventures.

dependents for the 1040 Form

1040-ES NR

1040-ES NR is a variation of the standard 1040-ES form and can be used by individuals who are non-residents.


Form 1040-V serves as a statement that you can send along with your payment when you owe money to the IRS.

1040 – SR

For seniors and retirees, a 1040-SR form is a great option. This form is specifically designed to make filing their individual income tax return easier for older individuals.

1040 – NR

As a non-resident, the 1040-NR form is likely your best bet. This form looks similar to the standard 1040, but is meant for individuals who are not living in the United States.


In the event that you need to make any changes to your 1040 tax form, the 1040-X is an excellent choice.

accountant to do the 1040 Form

Form 1040 Tips

Filling out your tax forms correctly is always important. Here are three tips to help you get it right.

  • Household employment taxes: If you have hired a household employee like a nanny, housekeeper, gardener, etc., it’s essential to comply with household employment tax requirements. These taxes typically include Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA taxes) that you need to withhold from your employee’s wages, along with your own contributions as the employer. Failure to handle these taxes correctly can lead to penalties and legal issues.
  • Keeping records: Maintaining accurate and organized records throughout the year is crucial for smooth tax preparation. This includes documentation of your income, expenses, deductions, and credits. Receipts for various expenses, such as educator expenses (if you’re a teacher), dependent care expenses, and charitable donations, are valuable in claiming deductions and credits. Additionally, keeping a copy of your filed tax return (transcript) can be useful for various purposes, such as verifying your filing status for government benefits or loans.
  • Filing on time: The deadline for filing your federal income tax return is typically April 15 (for most individuals). Failing to file on time may result in penalties and interest on any unpaid taxes. If you can’t file your return by the deadline, you should consider filing for an extension, which will give you additional time to submit your final return. However, keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay, so any taxes owed are still due by the original deadline.

Remember, being diligent and proactive with your tax responsibilities can help you avoid unnecessary complications and potentially save you money. If you have complex financial situations or are unsure about any aspect of your tax return, consider seeking advice from a qualified tax professional. They can guide you through the process and ensure you are complying with all tax regulations.

recordkeeping for the 1040 Form and taxes

The Bottom Line

Form 1040 can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! With the right knowledge and preparation, you can make sure that your taxes are filed correctly.

Keeping good records throughout the year, paying any required household employment taxes, and filing on time are all important factors in avoiding penalties or fees from the IRS.

Taking advantage of one of these form 1040 variations will also help ensure that you get the most out of your tax return.

If you need help filing out the 1040 form or others such as the w4 form or w9 form, you can check out state tax websites or IRS.gov for free tax advice.


Is a 1040 the same as a W-2?

No, a 1040 Form and a W-2 Form are not the same. A 1040 Form is used by individuals to file their income taxes for the previous year.

It reports income, deductions, and other tax-related information to the IRS. On the other hand, a W-2 Form is used by employers to report an employee’s wages and withholding taxes.

It also provides information on Social Security and Medicare payments made throughout the year.

Which Form 1040 schedules should I use?

The type of Form 1040 schedule you should use depends on the information you are trying to report.

Generally speaking, most taxpayers will need to use Schedule 1 for additional income and deductions, Schedule 2 for certain tax credits, and Schedule 3 for certain non-refundable credits.

You may also need to use other Schedules depending on your specific situation, such as if you’re filing jointly with a spouse or have self-employment income.

It is best to consult a qualified tax professional or review the instructions on the IRS website to determine which schedules are relevant for you.

What is the difference between 1099 and 1040?

The difference between 1099 and 1040 forms is that a 1099 form is an information return for income not subject to tax withholding.

This includes income such as interest, dividends, capital gains, and rental income. The 1040 form is the official tax return that taxpayers have to file with the IRS each year to report taxable income and calculate their taxes due.

The 1099 form provides information needed to complete a tax return, while the 1040 form is used to file the actual taxes due. Being aware of tax terms as well as both 1040 and 1099 rules is beneficial.

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Samantha Lile Samantha Lile is a staff writer for Small Business Trends as well as freelance writer and journalist who contributes to a variety of web publications from her home office in the heart of the Ozarks.

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