How to Fill Out Federal Tax Forms

••• tax forms image by Chad McDermott from

The Internal Revenue Service has a very elaborate website where you can find anything and everything related to federal income tax. If you are interested in preparing your own tax return or maybe starting a tax return business, you will find everything you need on the IRS website.

Determine the tax forms that you need to fill out. Start by reviewing the instructions for the lead form. For example, if you are preparing your 1040 tax return, review the instructions for form 1040; if you are preparing a corporate return, review the instructions for form 1120; and so on. You can do this under forms and publications for individuals and/or businesses on Take notes and compile a list of tax forms you will need. For example, if you are preparing your 1040 you will need schedule A if you itemize and scheduled C if you have a business. There are many other forms you may need depending on your situation.

Locate the forms and corresponding instructions from the list of forms and publications on These forms can be printed and filled out by hand, downloaded to your computer and saved in a PDF file then filled out on your computer, or they can be opened on the IRS website and filled out there. If you fill the forms out on the IRS website, you will not be able to save your data, so be prepared to print them out as soon as they are completed.

Fill in the forms you have obtained and/or located from using the fill in features of Adobe Acrobat. As you work your way through a form, follow along with the applicable instructions for each form you are working on so that you can determine the correct information for each line. Note that Adobe Acrobat will not do the math on the forms. You will need to do the math. For example, you may have to add, subtract, divide and multiply to get certain numbers you need to complete the forms.

Save the completed forms to your computer in the files you created when you downloaded the forms. You can use the completed electronic forms to e-file or you can print out the forms and mail them. In either case, save a copy of the electronic forms on your computer for future reference. If you complete the forms on the IRS website, print each form as it is completed because you will not be able to save your data. If you completed the forms by hand, make copies on a copy machine in order to have extra copies for your records