1040 Instructions for Filing Federal Income Tax

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Filing your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040 may seem daunting and complicated. However, especially if you itemize your deductions, it may be very beneficial to use Form 1040 instead of its less complicated counterparts, Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ. By following the instructions and taking each line step by step, completing Form 1040 becomes far less confusing and may save tax dollars when April 15 rolls around.

Step 1

Fill in the top section of Form 1040 with your identifying information. This includes your name, address, social security number, filing status and dependent information.

Step 2

Complete the Income section, lines 7 through 21, which calculates your total income for the year. List all income, including funds from any W-2’s you received, 1099’s, retirement distributions, capital gains or losses, or business or rental income. Add the income from all these lines and input it in line 22.

Step 3

Compute your Adjusted Gross Income. This amount is your income minus certain allowable reductions. In lines 23 through 35, enter any expenses that you have incurred through the year. Total them, and subtract it from your “Income” total on line 22. Enter the total on line 37 and 38.

Step 4

Determine if you will itemize your deductions or use the standard deduction rate on line 40. If you decide to itemize, complete Schedule A and attach it to your Form 1040. You will need to enter the total from Schedule A on line 40 of Form 1040. However, if you decide to use the standard deduction, input the amount of the deduction that applies to your household in line 40. On line 42, multiply your number of exemptions listed on line 6d by the exemption amount listed and enter the total. Subtract your standard or itemized deduction amount and the total from line 42 from your Adjusted Gross Income to determine your taxable income. Look on the tax table beginning in page 79 of your instruction book to determine the amount of tax to enter in line 44.

Step 5

Calculate your credit totals on lines 47 though 53. Total this amount and enter it on line 54. Subtract it from your tax listed in line 46. Once this is done, review the “Other Tax” section and enter any totals that apply to you. You will subtract this amount from your tax total on line 55, resulting in your “Total Tax”.

Step 6

Complete the payment section by reporting any estimated tax payments you have made, any withholdings reported on Form W-2 or 1099, or any payment credits you may qualify for. When you have a total in the payment section, you will subtract it from your total tax, which will result in your refund amount or the amount you are required to pay the IRS.

Step 7

Review the form, sign it and mail it to the Internal Revenue Service. You may also file the form electronically.


About the Author

Leather Martin has been writing professionally since 2005. Her portfolio includes articles on legal, business and financial topics, as well as general content for the Web and print. Martin holds an advanced certification through the National Association of Legal Professionals, and is a trained arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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