Internal Revenue Service Form 1040A, also known as "the short form," is a two-page personal income tax form that is much less complex than its counterpart, IRS Form 1040. If you qualify to use Form 1040A or the even simpler IRS Form 1040EZ, preparing your annual tax return is easier and often results in a shorter processing time.
1040A Qualifying Requirements
The only real difference between any of the tax forms is in their reporting requirements. As of the publication date, the IRS has six criteria you must meet to be eligible to file Form 1040A. For example, your income, which can't exceed $100,000, can only come from sources such as wages, unemployment compensation and taxable Social Security benefits. In addition, you cannot itemize deductions; you can only apply common adjustments, such as student loan interest or an individual retirement account deduction; and you can only claim common tax credits such as the childcare credit or earned income credit.
1040A vs. 1040EZ
The one-page tax form 1040EZ may be an option for people who qualify to file Form 1040A but are younger than 65 years old, single or married filing jointly, claim no dependents and don't claim any adjustments to income or credits beyond the earned income credit. If you're unsure whether you qualify to file either the 1040A or 1040EZ, the IRS has a free interactive tool on its website that can help you decide on the simplest form to use.
Standard vs. Itemized Deduction
Although you can't itemize deductions if you file a Form 1040A or 1040EZ, most people who qualify to file a simple return find that using the standard deduction is easier and more beneficial in lowering income taxes. For example, the standard deduction, which for the 2014 tax year ranges from $6,200 to $12,400 depending on your filing status, covers deductions such as medical expenses and charitable contributions. In addition, using the standard deduction eliminates the need to include actual amounts on Schedule A of Form 1040.
Accessing and Submitting Simple Forms
Both Form 1040A and 1040EZ are available to download and print on the IRS website. You can also find these forms at post offices, local libraries, a tax center or an IRS office. Or you can request that a tax form be sent to you by postal mail. Once you complete a simple return, submitting it by mail or online is the same as it is for a more complex return. Tax form instructions provide the mailing address. If you fill out your taxes online, simply click the submit button.