Can You File a 1040EZ If You Received Social Security Benefits?

by Bob Haring

    The Internal Revenue Service offers taxpayers a choice of three individual income tax return forms: 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ. The EZ is simplest, but restricted in its use. The 1040 is the only option that allows itemizing deductions and handling situations like self-employment income. Most taxpayers will use 1040A, which is rather in between the other two in terms of complexity and flexibility.

    You can't use Form 1040EZ if you and your spouse are over 65, regardless of whether or not you receive Social Security benefits. The 1040EZ also provides only standard deductions and cannot allow for special higher deductions for taxpayers over 65.

    Even if your Social Security benefits are something other than basic retirement, such as survivor benefits, and your income is under the $100,000 cap for Form 1040EZ, you are barred from that simple form. The 1040EZ is restricted to taxpayers whose only income is from wages, salaries, tips, scholarship grants or unemployment compensation.

    Form 1040A allows those receiving Social Security to claim the higher deduction for taxpayers over age 65. That is $13,900 for a couple filing jointly, as opposed to $11,900 for a couple under that age. You will have to calculate the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, based on how much other income you report. The instruction pamphlet for Form 1040A includes a worksheet to calculate this.

    You have to use Form 1040, the "long form," if you itemize deductions, such as mortgage interest. You also must use Form 1040 if you had any self-employment income or if any income was from a partnership, S corporation or from an estate or trust.

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    About the Author

    Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.

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