Are You Filing the Wrong Tax Form?

July 20, 2017

If you’re like most people and file your own income taxes each year, you probably prefer to use the simplest form available. One advantage of that is that it saves time and often allows the Internal Revenue Service to speedily process your tax return (and get you your tax refund!). A second advantage of using just a basic form is that it reduces the possibility to you’ll make an error, which can be all to common when using a longer, more detailed, tax form.  Despite these seeming advantages, though, it often pays to think twice about which form to use to file your taxes. While the easiest form might be the least trouble, you should take a minute and consider speaking with the right tax professional so you don’t end up filing the wrong tax form.

Types of IRS Tax Forms

Resident aliens and U.S. citizens have their choice of three types of forms when it comes time to file their personal income tax returns:

  • Form 1040EZ (fastest filing time and shortest form)
  • Form 1040A (has smaller sets of lines meant for reporting deductions and income)
  • Form 1040 (standard tax form)

When to Use Form 1040EZ

This form is considered by many to be one of the easiest forms to use when filing personal income taxes. You can use Form 1040EZ and still be able to take advantage of many tax benefits including the Earned Income Tax Credit (without other credits), or taking the standard deduction, and there are no adjustments to your income. You can also use this form in the following situations:

  • You file either married filing jointly or singly
  • Both your spouse and yourself are under 65;
  • Your income is only from Alaska Permanent Funds dividends, unemployment, interest, or wages;
  • Your interest income is below $1,500; or
  • Your taxable income is below $100,000.

When to Use Form 1040A

This is the most popular form, but not meant for use if you plan to  itemize deductions. You can use this form:

  • At any age or filing status;
  • Your taxable income is below $100,000;
  • Your income is from Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, fellowships or scholarships, Social Security benefits, unemployment, pension or IRA distributions, capital gain distributions, dividends, interest, or wages; or
  • You can claim deductions for Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit(s), Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, American Opportunity Credit, Credit for the Disabled and Elderly, Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Additionally, even if you can claim the standard deduction, classroom expenses, tuition and fees deduction, student loan interest, and IRA contributions you can still usually use Form 1040A. There are exceptions to this general rule however.  One such exception is that you must not have exercised any sort of incentive stock options if you plan to use this form.

When to Use Form 1040

Anyone can file their personal income tax return Form 1040. However, you MUST use this form if your taxable income exceeds $100,000, you itemize deductions, or you have earned income from a trust, partnership, S-corporation, farm, business, or rental property. You might also have to file Form 1040 if you claim tax treaty benefits, paid foreign taxes, or have foreign wages. Furthermore if you sold property, mutual funds, bonds, or stocks, or if you claim adjustments for health savings accounts, moving expenses, or income for a penalty for early withdrawal of savings, you’ll need this form.

Are You Filing the Wrong Tax Form?

There are many factors that determine which IRS form you should use to file your personal income taxes. If you think you’ve filed the wrong tax form, call a NYC tax attorney  at Mackay, Caswell & Callahan, P.C. today and be sure.  You can either fill out our online contact form or call us at 844-MCC-4TAX (622-4829).  We have offices in Albany, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown, so whether it’s a New York tax attorney or a Albany tax attorney you need, we stand ready to help.

As seen on

Client reviews

How can I help you?

You can contact us using this form day or night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You will hear back from one of our attorneys the same day or next day.

    If you would like to speak with a team member immediately, we are available 24/7 via this form — or via phone toll-free from 6am – 8pm EST M-F at: 844 - MCC - 4TAX

    schedule an appointment with us

    Call Toll Free
    844 - MCC - 4TAX
    send a message
    Contact Us
    send a message
    Contact Us