How to Make Out an Income Tax Return

Tax time rolls around every year in January. People who must file taxes have until April 15 to file them or ask for an extension. You need to know how to make out an income tax return in order to receive a refund or find out how much you owe in taxes to the IRS. Some people will have easy tax returns and some will have more deductions and credits to claim making the return a little harder to complete. You may need additional forms depending on your current tax status and any additions and subtractions you have to fill in on the income tax form.

How to Make Out an Income Tax Return

Choose the form you need to fill out (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ). Fill in your name, address, Social Security number and your spouse's name and Social Security number. If you plan to donate to the presidential election, check the box for spouse and yourself if appropriate. You do not have to check this box and donate money. It is optional. Then enter your filing status and any qualifying exemptions. You will need Social Security numbers for all exemptions.

Enter all income you have for that tax year. This includes W-2 forms, 1099 forms and any alimony received. Also, enter any Social Security benefits, income from rentals, farm income and IRA distributions. If you have other income not reported on a W-2 or 1099, enter the amount on line 21 and list what type of income it is such as for writing, repair work or independent contractor.

Figure your adjusted gross income in the next section by entering any qualified expenses or qualified deductions you have to claim. This will include health savings account, alimony paid an IRA deduction, half of your self-employment tax, qualified moving expenses and penalties on early savings withdrawal. You will add these expenses and deductions together on line 36. Then subtract this total from your total income to find your adjusted gross income.

Enter your adjusted gross income on line 38 under the section titled tax and credits. Decide if you are doing itemized deductions or if you will take the standard deduction and enter on the appropriate line. If you file itemized deductions, you need to complete form Schedule A and enter that total on line 40. Enter the amount you are allowed for the number of exemptions you have on line 6d. After subtracting that amount, find your tax liability in the tax table in the instruction booklet. Continue down the section and enter any other credits or tax you may be entitled to for the tax year. Fill out any other necessary forms if required.

Fill in any payments that you made in the next section. This includes your total federal income tax withheld. The information is located on your W-2 and in some cases, the 1099 if you requested federal taxes withheld. Always figure out the EIC if your income is low even if you have no qualified child. Enter any other payments listed if you qualify.

Add up your payments and subtract from your total tax on line 61. If you overpaid, you will enter a refund amount on line 72. If you owe money to the IRS, you will enter that amount on line 75. Enter your bank account number and routing number if you want your refund direct deposited into your account or leave blank and receive a check in the mail. Sign, date and recheck your tax form to make sure all calculations are correct.


  • Always recheck your calculations before sending out your tax forms.

    Keep all tax forms and documents in a safe place for four or more years after you file.


  • Never claim a filing status or exemptions that are not substantiated with documentation.