Internal Revenue Service Form 1040A is a federal income tax return you can file when you don't want to itemize your deductions. Instead, you take a standard deduction using this form. You can use Form 1040A rather than the more complicated Form 1040 if you meet certain requirements regarding the types and amounts of income you earn, as well as the adjustments and credits you can claim.
Enter your filing status and exemptions. Your filing status can be single, married -- filing separately or jointly -- head of household or a surviving spouse with dependent children. You take one exemption for yourself, and one for your spouse and one for each dependent, if applicable.
Report and total your income, including wages, earnings from investments, distributions from retirement accounts, unemployment compensation and taxable social security benefits.
Adjust your income by subtracting deductible educator expenses, IRA contributions, student loan interest and tuition. The result is your adjusted gross income.
To calculate you tax, subtract your standard deduction and the specified amount -- $3,950 in 2014 --for each exemption from your adjusted gross income, giving you your taxable income. Look up the tax for this amount using the tax table in the IRS instructions and enter it onto the form. Find your "total tax" by subtracting your tax credits, including those for dependent care, the elderly, the disabled, education, employer-plan retirement contributions and several other types, from your tax-table tax.
Report the income tax that you've already paid via employer withholdings and estimated tax payments. Subtract your tax payments from your total tax. If you underpaid your taxes, attach a check for the amount due, including any tax penalty if applicable. You will receive a refund if you overpaid your taxes, and can enter your bank account information if you want to receive your refund through a direct deposit. File your return by April 15, or apply for an extension.
The IRS instructions for Form 1040A run longer than 80 pages. If you plan to prepare the tax return yourself, you'll benefit from first scanning these instructions and referring to them if you have questions. Many taxpayers use tax preparation software that considerably reduces the effort involved. You also can use these programs or separate online facilities, such as IRS Free File, to file your form electronically.
Before you start working on Form 1040A, check the IRS instructions to ensure you don't have any tax-related items that would disqualify you from using this form. You generally will pay less tax if you can itemize deductions that exceed the standard deduction. To do that, you'll need to file Form 1040 instead. The IRS penalizes late filings and charges penalties and interest on taxes not paid by their due date.
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