Many of us think of tax returns as complicated and difficult to fill out. While this is the case for some taxpayers, there are those that don’t have it so bad. If you qualify for the 1040-EZ, you can be done with your tax return relatively quickly – and even have it prepared and filed for free in some cases.
What is the 1040-EZ?
The IRS offers three different versions of the 1040, which is the form that you fill out to determine whether or not you owe taxes, and how much you are entitled to if you qualify for a refund.
The standard 1040 form is the one that many of us think about when taxes come up. You have to file various forms and schedules with your 1040, documenting different sources of income that you have, as well as deductions and credits that you want to take. If you plan to take a lot of deductions, and if your income consists of items like self-employment earnings, that aren’t quickly and easily classified with the help of a W-2.
For those who have slightly less complicated taxes, making less than $100,000 in taxable income and who aren’t itemizing their deductions, it might be possible to use the 1040A. This form allows you take certain “above the line” deductions, as well as claim a few credits.
But the easiest and fastest form to fill out is the 1040-EZ. This is the form for those who have very simple finances.
Who Can File the 1040-EZ
If your finances are fairly simple and straightforward, you can file a 1040-EZ. This form doesn’t take a lot of time to fill out. For 2013, you have to meet the following requirements in order to file the 1040-EZ:
- You file as single or as married filing jointly.
- There are no dependents to claim.
- You (and your spouse if married filing jointly) are under age 65 as of January 1, 2013, and you are not blind as of the end of 2012.
- Your only income for 2012 comes from wages, salaries, reported tips (see boxes 5 and 7 of your W-2), taxable scholarships and fellowship grants, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, or unemployment compensation.
- Your income from taxable interest for 2012 does not exceed $1,500.
- Your taxable income for 2012 is less than $100,000
- You don’t have to pay household employment taxes on household employees.
You are not in Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed after October 16, 2005.
- There are no income adjustments (often seen as “above the line” deductions for things like IRA contributions and student loan interest deductions).
- The only credit you claim is the Earned Income Credit
- You do not itemize any of your deductions.
If you are eligible to file the 1040-EZ, you can usually do so quickly – and sometimes for free. There are tax software programs that will help you e-file your 1040-EZ for free through the IRS program Free File. Some tax preparers will also help you prepare and electronically file your 1040-EZ for free. Note, though, that filing your 1040-EZ is different from filing your state income tax return. You will likely have to pay to file your state return, even if you file your federal 1040-EZ for free.