A Walkthrough of How to Fill Out Form 1040A

March 28, 2017
Main post image

Form 1040A is one of the three tax forms — along with Form 1040 and Form 1040EZ — that most taxpayers use to file their annual tax returns. Compared to Form 1040 and Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A is more of an in-between option. It is shorter and less detailed than the traditional Form 1040, and it also offers more tax breaks than Form 1040EZ. To utilize Form 1040A, you must have a taxable income less than $100,000, not be self-employed, and opt for the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions. If you meet the requirements for filing Form 1040A, then follow along with this step-by-step process.

Step 1 – Fill Out Basic Information and Filing Status

Record your name, address, and Social Security number in the corresponding boxes.

For your filing status, you can choose single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household (with qualifying person), or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. Out of these five options, single and married filing jointly are the most commonly picked. If you’re filing a joint return, be sure to fill in your spouse’s name and Social Security number.

On the right side, you’ll see a box entitled “Presidential Election Campaign”. You and your spouse can each contribute $3 to the Presidential Campaign Fund.When you check “yes,” you’re telling the IRS to redirect $3 of its overall tax revenue to this fund. Despite what many taxpayers believe, this contribution does not affect your tax refund or tax liability.

Step 2 – Exemptions

Normally, the more exemptions you claim, the lower your tax liability. You can claim an exemption for yourself and your spouse on line 6a and 6b. Next, write down your dependents’ information, which includes name, Social Security number, and relationship to you. Dependents are commonly children and non-working relatives who live in your household and rely on you for financial support. For children, make sure to check the Form 1040A instructions to see if your son or daughter qualifies for the Child Tax Credit. After writing down your dependents (if any), add up all of your exemptions and record the total number on line 6d.

Step 3 – Income

For line 7, which is your earned income, you’ll just copy the amount presented on box 1 of your Form W-2. If you did not receive any variation of Form 1099, then you do not have to worry about filling out lines 8a to 14b. Otherwise, refer to the Form 1040A instructions for any source of income that is applicable you.

To find out your total income, add up all of your income from lines 7 to 14b and enter that number on line 15.

Step 4 – Adjusted Gross Income

Although you’re not permitted to itemize deductions on Form 1040A, this section offers several “above-the-line” deductions to help reduce your taxable income. These deductions include educator expenses, IRA contributions, student loan interest and tuition payments. Fill in the correct amount of any relevant deductions on the corresponding lines. Add up lines 16 through 20 to get your total adjustments, then subtract line 20 from line 15 to receive your adjusted gross income.

Step 5 – Tax, Credits, and Payments

First, copy your adjusted gross income on line 22. Before checking any boxes on lines 23a and 23b, please read more details about these lines in the Form 1040A instructions. Next, enter the standard deduction amount, which will vary depending on your filing status, on line 24. Subtract line 24 from line 22 and enter the result on line 25. If it’s a negative number, put down 0. For line 26, multiply $4,050 by your total exemptions, which can be found on line 6d, and enter the sum. Finally, subtract line 26 from line 25 and put down the amount on line 27. This is your taxable income.

To find out your tax for line 28, refer to the tax tables in the Form 1040A instructions. Unless you are subject to Alternative Minimum Tax, leave line 29 blank. Add lines 28 and 29, then enter the amount on line 30.

For lines 31 through 35, verify if you’re eligible for any tax credits. You may have to attach additional forms to claim these tax credits. Add everything from lines 31 through 35 and put the result on line 36 to determine your total credits.

Subtract line 36 from line 30 and write down the result on line 37. If you had health coverage throughout the tax year, enter 0 on line 38. If you didn’t have full-year health coverage, you might get penalized and would have to enter the amount of your fine on line 38. For details, check the Form 1040A instructions.

Add lines 37 and 38 together, then enter the amount on line 39 to receive your total tax.

Enter your federal income withheld on line 40. You can find this amount on your W-2s and 1099s. If lines 41 through 45 apply to you, put down the correct amount on the corresponding lines. To calculate your total payments, add lines 40, 41, 42a, 43, 44, and 45 together and record the sum on line 46.

Step 6 – Get Refund or Owe Money

You’ve almost reached the finish line. Now, subtract line 39 from line 46. If line 46 is larger than line 39, you get to enjoy a refund. Enter the amount you want refunded to you and your banking information for a direct deposit on lines 48a through 48d. For line 49, you can put a portion of your refund toward next year’s estimated tax, but why would you want to do that?

Unfortunately, if line 39 is more than line 46, you’ll have to pay taxes to Uncle Sam. Enter the amount due on line 50. There are several payment methods, so check the Form 1040A instructions to see which one is most suitable for you.

You can designate a third party – like one of our dedicated accountants – to discuss your return with the IRS on your behalf. Just fill in his or her name, phone number, and personal identification number.

Once you sign and date your form, you can give yourself a pat on the back for completing Form 1040A. However, to avoid errors and a possible audit from the IRS, it is highly recommended to let us handle this form.

Work with the Experts

1-800Accountant is a virtual accounting firm merging the convenience of technology with live support from real professionals, making taxes easy and personable for individuals and small businesses. Focus on growing your bottom line while our team of accountants, certified public accountants, and enrolled agents perform the heavy lifting – tax advisory and preparation, payroll, bookkeeping, and audit defense. For professional, year-round services at an affordable price, get in touch with us and schedule your consultation with America’s leading small business accounting firm.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. 1-800Accountant assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.