There are five types of Form 1040, as of March 2011. Choosing which form to use depends partially on your income, marital status and itemized deductions. Read the directions for each form carefully to determine which form is best for you to use. Download the forms and instructions from the Internal Revenue Service's website (IRS.gov).
The 1040 form is sometimes referred to as the long form. Use this form if you itemize deductions, own a business or farm, claim adjustments to income or have income greater than $100,000. People who have special tax situations, such as resident aliens and citizens living abroad must file this form. You can file Form 1040 and accompanying schedules electronically.
1040-A is a less complicated version of form 1040. You can use this form if you do not itemize deductions. There are income restrictions and limits, though. Income from self-employment such as a business or farming must be on form 1040, not 1040-A. If your income is greater than $100,000, you cannot use 1040-A. You can file the 1040-A electronically.
1040-ES is the form to file estimated taxes. Only use this form if you have income, such as self-employment, fishing or farming, not subject to withholding tax. Taxpayers using form 1040-ES can pay their estimated taxes in full by April of the filing year—April 18, 2011, for 2010 taxes. Alternately, a taxpayer can make four or more separate tax payments through the year. Use the 1040-ES form and make copies of the payment coupon. Taxpayers can set up an account with the IRS in order to pay the estimated taxes electronically.
There are restrictions on Form 1040-EZ. Your filing status must be single or married filing jointly. The income limit for filing this form is $100,000. You cannot itemize deductions or claim adjustments to income other than the earned income credit. If you claim dependents, such as your children, you cannot file form 1040-EZ. Anyone 65 and older and those who are blind cannot file this form.
File Form 1040-X when you need to amend your tax return. You need a copy of the original tax return. A separate 1040-X form must be filed for each year a return is amended. One reason to use this form is to claim a bad debt. Another reason is to correct an error on the original tax return. It takes eight to 12 weeks for the IRS to process your 1040-X amended return.