How to Complete a 1040 Tax Form

Tax season is among us! Here's a complete guide for filing Form 1040!

IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is used by U.S. taxpayers to file an annual income tax return. Form 1040 will report your gross income and how much of that income is taxable after tax credits and deductions. This will ultimately determine the amount of tax you owe or the refund you will receive. 

Form 1040 is due April 18th, 2022. While this date may still seem far away, it will be here before we know it! That means it’s time to start preparing to file your tax return now! Here’s a helpful guide for filing IRS Form 1040: 

Complete Basic Information

When completing the first portion of Form 1040, you will need to provide some basic information regarding your filing status, identification, contact information, and dependents. It is important that you enter your name and the names of your spouse and dependents as they appear on their Social Security cards. 

Report Your Income

Lines 1 through 7 of Form 1040 are all about your income. When completing this portion of the form, your W-2 will come in handy. The types of income you will need to report include:

  • Wages (found on your W-2)
  • Interest and dividends
  • Retirement income from IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, and Social Security 

Also, if you have any other sources of taxable income, such as unemployment compensation, prize or award money, or gambling winnings, you will also need to attach Schedule 1 to your Form 1040. You should also use Schedule 1 if you have any deductions to claim, such as student loan interest deduction, self-employment tax, educator expenses.  

Once you’ve entered your total income and subtracted adjustments, you will get your adjusted gross income (AGI) value. This value goes on line 11 of Form 1040. 

Claiming Deductions 

When you file Form 1040, you have the option of itemizing deductions or claiming the standard deduction. If you choose to itemize your deductions, you will need to attach Schedule A to your Form 1040. 

Itemized deductions include:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • State and local taxes
  • Mortgage interest
  • Gifts to charity
  • Casualty losses 

Once you subtract all of your available deductions from your AGI, you will receive your taxable income value. This value should be entered on line 15 of Form 1040. 

Calculate your Tax Owed

Now it’s time for everyone’s least favorite part of the year, calculating how much you owe in taxes. This portion of Form 1040 is on the second page. Form 1040 will include instruction tables for completing the calculations, however; if you use tax software or a tax preparer they will be able to handle the tax calculations for you. 

If you owe additional If you owe other taxes, such as self-employment tax, household employment taxes, additional tax on IRAs or other qualified retirement plans and tax-favored accounts, AMT, or need to make an excess advance premium tax credit repayment, you will need to attach Schedule 2 with your Form 1040. Schedule 2 is used to report additional taxes owed. 

Claim Tax Credits

This portion of 1040 is all about determining whether you will get a refund or owe more money to the IRS. 

You should complete Schedule 3 if you can claim any credit that you didn’t claim on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, such as the foreign tax credit, education credits, general business credit. Schedule 3 should also be completed if you have other payments, such as an amount paid with a request for an extension to file or excess social security tax withheld. Schedule 3 is used to report additional credits and payments. 

You should subtract those credits and any other taxes you paid during the year from your calculated tax. The result will either be a refund or the amount you owe for the year. Here’s how to determine whether you will receive a refund or owe money: 

  • If the number on Line 19 (your total payments) is greater than the number on Line 16 (your total tax), you are due a refund
  • If line 19 (taxes paid) is less than Line 16 (taxes owed), then you need to pay the IRS some more money 

Based on whether you are getting a refund or if you owe money, complete the appropriate final portions of Form 1040. 

E-file your Return

While e-filing Form 1040 is not mandatory, it is suggested. The easiest and most secure way to file your taxes is electronically. E-filing your return will help reduce processing delays and ensure your receive your refund quickly. E-filing also increases your chances of submitting an accurate tax return. 


Although the tax season is not enjoyable, it is also not avoidable. That is why it is best to file early and use an online tax software. If you need to access your W-2 to use when filing Form 1040, 123PayStubs has got you covered. If you e-filed Form W-2 with 123PayStubs, you can easily access your return within your 123PayStubs account.

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