Ready to file your taxes?

By Jessica Sly

Ready to file your taxes

Getty Images / Creatas RF / Thinkstock

It’s tax season! Are you ready to file? With three tax forms to choose from – 1040EZ, 1040A and 1040 – it’s easy to get confused. Not only are the forms difficult to plow through and understand, but you have to determine which one to use.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you determine which form is the one for you.

Use the 1040EZ, the simple form, if:

  • Your total income is less than $100,000.
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
  • You (and spouse if filing jointly) are younger than 65.
  • Your income interest is less than $1,500.
  • You’re not claiming tax credits other than earned income credit.

Use the 1040A, the short form, if:

  • Your total income is less than $100,000.
  • You have income from wages, dividends, salaries, tips,
  • interest, capital gain distributions, Social Security, etc.
  • Only adjustments you claim are student loan interest, early withdrawal penalties, IRA deduction, educator expenses, etc.
  • The only tax credits you claim are child and dependent care, education credits, retirement savings, earned income credit, etc.
  • You do not itemize deductions.

When in doubt, use form 1040, the long form, because any taxpayer can use it. However, you must file 1040 if:

  • Your total income is more than $100,000.
  • You have self-employment income.
  • You itemize deductions.
  • You receive income from a farm, trust, partnership, S-corporation, rental or business.
  • You claim adjustments for tuition and fees, moving expenses, educator expenses or health savings accounts.

Quick tax tips

  1. Organize your records, receipts and documents year round to make for minimal work during tax season.
  2. Keep tax records seven years from the filing date.
  3. If you make charitable donations, verify whether you are contributing to qualified organizations. Doublecheck the rules on donated items, such as clothing, household items, cars or boats. Keep records of all donations made.
  4. For quicker refunds and more accuracy, file your taxes online or seek the help of a professional.
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