Last year, when you filed your taxes, you had a choice of several different 1040 forms. If you had a fairly simple tax return, chances are good you probably chose Form 1040EZ rather than the full 1040. This was a much shorter and simpler form to submit.
But when you start doing your 2018 taxes to submit by this April, you may find that the 1040EZ no longer exists. Naturally, this will probably leave you wondering what happened to it. Here's the answer.
So where is Form 1040EZ?
The 1040EZ was eliminated as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And it wasn't just the 1040EZ that disappeared. The 1040EZ, 1040A, and standard 1040 have all been replaced for tax year 2018 with a new simplified 1040 form.
As part of tax reform, politicians promised that taxpayers would now be able to file taxes on a postcard. The new 1040 is an attempt to fulfill this promise. And indeed, the form is relatively simple. It asks just a few questions, including:
- Your name (and your spouse's name if the return is a joint one).
- Whether anyone claims you as a dependent.
- Dependents you're claiming and whether they qualify for the child tax credit or credit for other dependents.
- Whether you're taking the standard deduction or itemizing.
- What your profession is.
- What your income is.
- Certain other deductions you're claiming.
If you have a paid tax preparer, the form also requires the preparer's name and signature.
How does the new Form 1040 compare to the 1040EZ?
The new 1040 is actually a little more complicated than the old 1040EZ, even though it's supposed to be simpler. That's because this 1040 form is used by everyone -- even taxpayers who couldn't have qualified to use the 1040EZ.
Taxpayers with more-complicated situations do have to submit additional schedules with the new 1040 (schedules are basically just fancy names for tax forms). But since everyone fills out the same basic form, the new 1040 has to ask about some stuff that the 1040EZ didn't -- like whether you're claiming a qualified business income deduction or have qualified dividends.
The good news is, if these more-complicated questions don't apply to you, you probably don't need to worry about filling out those boxes. And, if you use tax prep software, you'll be guided through the process of completing the form and will be asked many of the same simple questions as last year. And you won't have to attach any of the additional forms or schedules that the IRS requests on the 1040 form if they don't apply to you.
Is the new Form 1040 really simpler?
There's an argument to be made that it's definitely easier to have just one form to use instead of choosing among different ones and figuring out if you could qualify to use the 1040EZ. But the new 1040 doesn't really live up to the promise of a postcard-size tax return -- especially if you have to fill out additional schedules.
Those who filled out a 1040EZ in the past already had a pretty simple tax return, so it's unlikely the process will seem much easier to you at all. Since the IRS is already accepting returns, you may as well get started filling out the new 1040 now so you can see for yourself.