Form 1040—US Individual Income Tax Return is your federal income tax return. For the 2021 tax season, file it by April 15 or file a tax extension to request more time from the IRS to file.
There are two main ways you can file and submit your federal income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. File electronically or fill out 1040 on paper and mail it to the Internal Revenue Service. Regardless of how you file and submit Form 1040, what will go into your tax return is going to be the same.
While you need to pay for e-file, paper filing and mailing Form 1040 will be free of cost but it will take just a bit longer for you to get your tax refund. This is due to how long it takes for the IRS to process tax returns. On average, electronically filed tax returns take less time to be processed.
Here is the line by line instructions to file Form 1040 for the 2021 tax season (for 2020 taxes you owe).
2021 Form 1040 Page 1
Enter your filing status, name, home address, Social Security numbers, dependency status, and additional information if you’re claiming the standard deduction such as blindness and age.
Line 2. Enter tax exempt interest on 2a and taxable interest on 2b.
Line 3. Enter qualified dividends on 3a and ordinary dividends on 3b. Attach Form 1099-DIV.
Line 4. Enter IRA distributions on 4a and taxable amount on 2b. If you have a traditional IRA or 401(k) and withdrew money, enter the exact money amounts shown on Form 1099-R.
Line 5. Enter the Social Security benefits you received during the year and taxable amount on 5b.
Line 6. Enter capital gains or losses. Attach Schedule D if required. If not, check the box on Line 6.
Line 7. Enter the other income you earned other than the income reported on information returns. Attach Schedule 1.
Line 8. Enter the adjustments to your income on 8a before the deductions. Subtract the amount on 8a from 7b to calculate adjusted gross income.
Line 9. Enter your deduction amount. If you’re taking the standard deduction, enter it as such and if itemizing, attach Schedule A.
Line 10. Enter qualified business income tax deduction and Attach Form 8995-A or 8995.
Line 11. Add Lines 9 and 10 and this is your taxable income. If your taxable income is less than $0, you don’t owe any tax but might get a refund from the IRS.
2021 Form 1040 Page 2
Line 12. Check the boxes if Forms 8814 or 4972 is attached and add Schedule 2 Lines 3 and 12a.
Line 13. Enter the child tax credit or other credits for dependents on 13a and Schedule 3 Lines 7 and 13a.
Line 14. Subtract Line 13 b from Line 12b and enter the results. If the result is 0 or less, enter 0.
Line 15. Enter other taxes such as self-employment tax from Schedule 2 Line 10.
Line 16. Add lines 14 and 15. This is your tax liability.
Line 17. Enter the federal income tax withheld from all of your information returns such as Forms W-2 and 1099.
Line 18. Enter other tax payments and refundable credits.
Line 19. Add Lines 17 and 18. This is the total amount of tax you paid during the tax year.
Line 20. Subtract Line 16 from 19 to figure out refund amount.
Line 21. Enter the amount you want to be refunded to you on 21a and check if Form 8888 is attached. Your routing number as well as account number and account type needs to be entered on Line 21 b, c, and d. This is where your tax refund will be sent.
Line 22. If you want to forward a portion of your refund to be used for paying next year’s taxes, enter the amount.
Line 23. Subtract Line 19 from 16 and this is the amount you owe. If you will receive a refund, you don’t need to fill out this part.
Line 24. Enter estimated tax penalty if you paid less than 90% of your tax liability during the year.
Enter your signature, and provide information about your occupation and mail it to the IRS.