What is IRS Form 1040?

All You Need to Know About This Federal Tax Form

The Lowdown on the 1040 IRS Tax Form

The IRS Form 1040 is for filing annual income taxes. Use it to disclose your annual income and determine whether you’re owed a tax refund, or if you still owe additional taxes. (Hint: use File Taxes Online to quickly and easily e-file your taxes, and we’ll make sure you’re getting all the credits and deductions you qualify for.)

The 1040 is also commonly known as the individual income tax form. In most cases, it must be filed no later than April 15th each year. Taxpayers over a certain income threshold mush file an income tax return.

What Does It Look Like?

The IRS Form 1040 is two pages long, black and white with the words “1040 Individual Income Tax Return” as the title.

This section is for basic information. Fill out your name, address, social security number, and spouse information.

Indicate your claim status. This is determined by marital status and whether or not you have dependents.

Claim your exemptions, including your spouse or dependents.

This is where you claim your income. The worksheet helps you add up all sources of income from the year.

Calculate your adjusted gross income minus exemptions for moving or education expenses, alimony, health insurance, etc.

Lines 38 through 56 determine your taxes and credits.

Lines 57 through 63 are for things like self-employed taxes, additional IRAs, and first-time homebuyer credits.

Calculate how much you have already paid out in taxes.

Review to determine whether or not you will receive a refund.

Sign off on everything and finish up. You’re done!

What Is It Used For?

The 1040 worksheet is designed calculate your total income for the year, minus any exemptions or deductions. This determines how big your refund or tax payment will be.

If you are looking to file amendments, then it’s Form 1040-X that you should be looking at.

On the first page, calculate your adjusted gross income (AGII).

This  number is based the total of your wages or salary, any tips, dividends, interest, taxable refunds, alimony, capital gains, pension or IRA distributions, unemployment income, farm income, and benefits from Social Security.

From your total income, subtract deductions to get your AGI.

Some allowable adjustments include:
  • Half of self-employment payments
  • Any alimony payments made
  • Contributions to your IRA
  •  Student loan interest
  • Health savings plan interest

These are just a few of the possible deductions – there are many more that you could qualify for depending on your situation and filing status. Check the IRS website for details.

Examples of itemized deductions:
  • Mortgage interest
  • Charitable donations
  • Excess medical expenses
  • State/local income and sales tax

Add up your itemized deductions and compare the total to that year’s standard deduction amount. Use whichever is higher.

Using tax preparation software, it will do the math for you recommend either the standard deduction or itemization of all your deductions. This gives you the highest possible refund amount.

Now that you have this number, calculate what you owe on your final income. Reference the tables in the worksheet. Or, if you’re using a service, it will provide this number automatically.

Compare the total amount you owe with the taxes that have been withheld over the year. This will tell you whether or not you’ll get a refund, or if additional payment is due.

Where to Get It?

There are four main ways to obtain a copy of the IRS Form 1040:

 Over the Phone

Call 1-800-TAX-FORM. The line is open from 7am to 7pm local time, Mondays through Fridays. You can request the current year or prior years’ worksheets.

IRS Centers

There are official IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country, with all the documents you may need on hand.

 The Community

During tax season, you can often find tax forms at libraries or post offices. Your community may make them available elsewhere.


You can get your IRS forms on the internet whenever you need them. Easily download, print, and fill out anything needed, usually earlier than anywhere else.

Download your IRS 1040 form today to get a head start on your taxes!