1040EZ Vs. 1040

Form 1040EZ is simple but limited; complex Form 1040 fits any situation.

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Prior to the 2018 tax year, it was important to know the difference between form 1040 vs 1040EZ. As the name implies, 1040EZ was simply an easier version of the traditional 1040 form, which is the main form used by individual taxpayers. There were specific requirements for the 1040EZ, with it primarily being designed for salaried workers who had no itemized deductions or dependents. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has eliminated the EZ form and opted for a seemingly simplified version of the 1040 form for everyone. The newer 1040 will be fairly easy if you would have qualified as a 1040EZ filer.

What Is a 1040 Form?

A 1040 is the main form used by U.S. taxpayers to report their income and taxes paid throughout the year. Prior to the 2019 filing season, taxpayers had the option of a 1040 vs 1040EZ. The 1040 was nicknamed “the long form,” since the 1040EZ was much shorter and simpler. With the shorter version, though, you didn’t have the option of claiming credits for your dependents and your taxable income had to be less than $100,000.

The New 1040

Starting with the 2019 filing season, though, the difference between 1040 and 1040EZ is no longer relevant. The new tax law promises a shorter, simpler version of the 1040 that will fit on a two-sided postcard. However, there are complications with this new tax form in that most of the information that was on the original 1040 has been transferred to schedules, which are numbered 1 through 6. This means if your information can be covered fully in lines 1 through 23 of the 1040, you’ll be able to skip the schedules and simply complete a form that’s the size of a double-sided postcard.

What Is Form 1040A?

Another option for taxpayers prior to the new tax law was form 1040A, which was easier than the 1040 but covered more information than the 1040EZ. Just as the difference between 1040 and 1040EZ was that the 1040EZ was shorter, the 1040A was different because it struck a compromise between the two. The 1040A has gone by the wayside as well, since you’ll simply use the appropriate schedules to capture the extra information if you need to claim certain tax credits but you don’t have any need to itemize your deductions. Since the standard deduction has now increased to $12,000 for individual taxpayers and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly, you may find that even if you itemized in the past, you now won’t need to, which could push you back toward fitting all of your information on the short form and maybe one or two schedules.

About the New Schedules

Although taxpayers will no longer need to concern themselves with the difference between 1040 and 1040EZ, they will need to think about which schedules to use. The new 1040 will direct you to the schedules you’ll need and if you’re filing electronically or using tax preparation software, you likely won’t even notice the difference. It will actually be easier than before, since instead of trying to determine if you need to use form 1040, form 1040A or form 1040EZ, you can now just pick up form 1040 and let it guide you.

But unlike the 1040 vs 1040EZ decision, the new forms may have you confused as to which schedules you’ll need. Schedule 1 captures income from any prizes you’ve won, while Schedule 2 will help you calculate your income for the year. With Schedule 3, you’ll input any non-refundable credits and Schedule 4 captures self-employment tax and retirement taxes. You’ll use Schedule 5 to report any estimated tax you paid during the year or premium tax credit for the Affordable Care Act. If you need to designate someone to interact with the IRS on your behalf, you’ll use Schedule 6.