A Guide To The Different Tax Forms

Written by Ashley Henshaw. Posted in Taxes

There’s the basic Form 1040 for your income taxes, but beyond that do you really know what other tax forms you need to file? There are actually dozens of tax forms currently in use, and you may not realize which ones you should be filling out each year. Here’s a simple, easy guide to different tax forms and how to use them properly.

The Basic Tax Forms

The first and most important tax form to understand is Form 1040. Most people are already familiar with this form – it’s the basic form used to report all types of income. However, did you know there are actually two additional versions of this form? These two forms are:

  1. Form 1040EZ: As suggested in its name, the 1040EZ is the easiest form to file. It helps taxpayers to bypass sections of the regular 1040 which don’t apply to them. However, this form can only be used by people with very simple tax returns. For example, you can’t use this form if you have any dependents, make over $100,000 in taxable income or are age 65 or older. The main thing to remember with the 1040EZ is that, if you use it, you are not permitted to claim any adjustments to your gross income and you cannot itemize deductions.
  2. Form 1040A: Form 1040A is also simpler than the regular 1040. However, it accommodates some of the people who aren’t eligible to file the 1040EZ. For example, you can use this form if you want to claim adjustments to your gross income based on student loan interest, tuition and fees or an IRA. You cannot itemize deductions with the 1040A.

The most basic tax forms besides the 1040 are the ones you receive as documentation of your income. Most people receive Form W-2 from their employer at the end of the year. This form details how much money you earned as well as how much tax was withheld. Those who work as independent contractors receive a Form 1099-S from each of their clients. Since these forms are for self-employed individuals, no tax is withheld (the self-employed individual has to make payments on their own over the course of the year instead), but the information provided will help you fill out your return.

Other Common Tax Forms

In addition to one of the W-2 or 1099-S forms, you may also receive additional tax forms regarding your taxes. The following are some of the most common additional tax forms currently used.

  • Form 1098: This is a form sent by a mortgage company to the homeowner. It details the interest paid on mortgage for the year.
  • Form 1098-E: This is a form sent by a lender to those who are repaying student loans. It details the interest paid on the student loans in the last year. Keep in mind that if you have loans from different lenders then you should receive a 1098-E from each lender.
  • Form 1098-T: This is a form sent by a college or university to any person paying tuition to that institution. It details how much was spend on tuition and fees for the year.
  • Form 1042-S: This form is sent from a college or university to any student who received money from the institution for a grant, scholarship or fellowship.
  • Form 1099-SSA: This form is sent by the federal government to anyone who received social security income during the year.
  • Form 1099-DIV and Form 1099-INT: These are forms sent by a financial institution to anyone who has a fund or account there that paid dividends or interest during the year.
  • Form 1099-R: This is a form sent to someone who received distributions from an IRA, pension, retirement plan, annuity or profit-sharing plan.

When it comes to filing your taxes, you may also have to include other forms in addition to the 1040. Some of the most common forms that taxpayers have to file (and what type of information they are used to report) are:

  • Schedule A and Schedule B: Itemized deductions, interest and dividends
  • Schedule C: Net profits or losses from business
  • Schedule D: Capital gains and losses
  • Schedule E: Supplemental income and loss from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, trusts and S-corporations
  • Schedule EIC: Earned Income Credit
  • Schedule F: Net profit or loss from farming
  • Schedule H: Household employment taxes
  • Schedule J: Farm income averaging
  • Schedule R: Credit for the elderly or disabled
  • Form 2106: Employee business expenses
  • Form 2441: Credit for child and dependent care expenses
  • Form 3903: Moving expenses
  • Form 4137: Unreported tips
  • Form 5329: IRA and other retirement accounts
  • Form 8812: Additional Child Tax Credit
  • Form 8863: Hope and Lifetime Education Credits
  • Form 8880: Retirement Savings Contributions Credit
  • Form 8889: Health Savings Account Deduction

Where To Find Tax Forms

Fortunately, it’s very easy to find any tax form that you need in order to file your taxes properly. If you’re filling out your tax return online, you should be able to fill out additional tax forms as needed. It’s also easy to look up any tax forms you require on IRS.gov. Just make sure that any forms you download and print out are for the correct tax year.

Don’t be frightened by the sheer number of tax forms described in this guide. Most people only need to file a few additional tax forms at most. If you have a particularly complex tax situation, then hire a tax professional to help you with the process of filing a return. They’ll make sure you fill out all of the proper forms based on your personal circumstances.


Ashley Henshaw

Ashley Henshaw

Ashley Henshaw is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a bachelor's degree in English. She has previously written about health, fitness, finance and travel topics for sites such as LIVESTRONG.com, USA Today, The Huffington Post, AOL's City's Best, All Things Frugal and Campus Explorer.

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