Most residents in the United States need to file a 1040 form to report their taxable income or receive advance tax credits, like the 2021 Child Tax Credit that sends payments to qualified parents and guardians. The IRS form 1040 is the primary document taxpayers need to file for their personal income.
Along with the 1040 tax form, you may need to include other documents known as schedules. For instance, you may need to attach Schedule 8812 if you want to claim the Child Tax Credit for qualifying children in your household. Find out more about which 1040 form to use and additional tax documents you may need to file your refund.
Who Needs to Complete the 1040 Form?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents who work in the country will need to file a tax return if they earn more than a certain amount. The minimum earnings amount to file an IRS form 1040 depends on your filing status and age. The following are the IRS 1040 filing requirements for 2021:
- Single and younger than 65 years of age – $12,550
- Single and older than 65 years of age – $14,250
- Head of household and younger than 65 years of age – $18,800
- Head of household and older than 65 years of age – $20,500
- Married, filing jointly and both spouses are younger than 65 years of age – $25,100
- Married, filing jointly and one spouse is older than 65 years of age – $26,450
- Married, filing jointly and both spouses are older than 65 years of age – $27,800
- Married, filing separately (any age) – $5
- Qualifying widow or widower younger than 65 years of age – $25,100
- Qualifying widow or widower older than 65 years of age – $26,450
Keep in mind that these minimum earning amounts may change annually and will likely increase in 2022 and subsequent years.
Your earnings include all your gross income received as money, goods, property, and services. However, in some cases, you may not need to include Social Security benefits (or a portion of benefits).
You may still need to file a 1040 tax form even if your income is less than the above amount. Below are a few of the particular circumstances when you need to file a return:
- You had at least $400 in self-employment earnings.
- You had at least $108.28 in wages from a qualified church-controlled organization exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.
- You received advance payments of premium tax credits for coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Similarly, you may want to file to receive government subsidies, as the IRS may not know about your eligibility for payments without filing.
Which IRS Form 1040 to Use
You will likely need to use the standard IRS form 1040 unless you are a non-resident alien, in which you may need the 1040NR. Currently, the IRS has four variants of the 1040 form, but there have been different versions in prior years and there may be other alternatives in the future.
For instance, the 1040SR is almost identical to the standard 1040, but it is in a larger font and, therefore, is more easily read by senior taxpayers. Likewise, you may need the 1040X form if you need to make a change to your previously filed Form 1040.
While the 1040 ES form has the same numbers, you cannot use this document to file your annual taxes. Instead, this tax form is for taxpayers who need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. This includes self-employed individuals who do not have employers to deduct their tax responsibility from their wages on their behalf.
The 1040 EZ form was available for single tax filers without dependents, but the IRS discontinued the form in 2018. The 1040EZ was a shortened version for taxpayers with basic financial situations, such as earning less than $50,000 in income and $400 in interest.
You may be able to request a 1040 in your preferred language if you have difficulty with English. The standard tax form is available in several languages. The IRS offers special forms and assistance if you have hearing or seeing disabilities, including a 1040 in Braille, large print, and audio formats.
Documents Needed to Fill Out the IRS 1040 Form
To fill out an IRS 1040 form, you will need documents referencing your income and possible deductions. The specific tax documents you need to file a 1040 depend on your employment situation and other factors.
For example, you may receive a W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, if you worked for an employer and earned more than $600. Your W-2 will detail how much income you earned from that employer and how much the employer withheld for your taxes. As an employee, your employer usually deducts a certain amount of your wages to pay your income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes.
You might get a 1099-G if you received unemployment insurance benefits. Alternatively, your clients may send you a 1099 form if you are an independent contractor, freelancer, or otherwise self-employed. Additionally, you may need a 1040 Schedule 1, 2, C, SE, or another tax form.
The Schedule 1 tax form is not exclusive to self-employed taxpayers, as it reports any additional sources of income, including the sale of property, prizes, and more. It also details deduction claims, such as paid student loan interest and educator expenses. The IRS Schedule 1 is a way for the IRS to verify your additional income and adjustments to income that are not specified on the 1040.
It is crucial to ensure you include all your income, as the IRS is likely already aware of your earnings. Employers must submit copies of any tax forms sent to you to the government as well. The government can charge you interest and penalties for not paying your entire tax responsibility.
The IRS has deadlines for people or companies to send tax forms, usually by the end of January following the tax year. If you believe you are missing documents to file your taxes, you can request copies from your employer, the paying organization, or the government in most cases.