What Is IRS Form 1040-SR?

IRS Form 1040-SR Explained

Mature couple doing paperwork using laptop
••• Andersen Ross/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

IRS Form 1040-SR is a version of the 1040 tax return that's been created specifically for use by senior citizens. Lawmakers have been trying for years to cut seniors a bit of a break at tax time, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 finally took a solid step in that direction, providing for this form. Individuals aged 65 and older now have their own tax return, the 1040-SR.

The 1040-SR is similar to the 1040-EZ in many ways, and it's much easier for older taxpayers to negotiate than the standard Form 1040.

What Is Form 1040-SR?

Form 1040-SR was first proposed in 2013 as part of the Seniors Tax Simplification Act. The AARP, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Association of Mature Americans all supported the bill, but it didn't win the approval of the Senate.

Then, on February 9, 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump. The BBA required that the Internal Revenue Service create and publish a senior-friendly tax return and Form 1040-SR was introduced.

IRS Form 1040-SR

Who Uses Form 1040-SR?

Taxpayers who reach their 65th birthday at any time during the tax year can use Form 1040-SR, even if they were born on December 31.

Those who are not yet 65 and who have Social Security income, pension income, or other forms of retirement income can’t use Form 1040-SR because of this age requirement.

Filers don't have to be retired to qualify to use this form, but they must be age 65 or older. Only one spouse must meet the age requirement if you're married and filing a joint return.

Where to Get Form 1040-SR

Seniors can access Form 1040-SR in two ways. The IRS offers an interactive form online. You can complete it, then save it to your computer, and print it out. You'll also have access to the form if you use a reputable tax software provider to prepare your return. The IRS indicates that 90% of taxpayers use software.

How to Fill Out and Read Form 1040-SR

You might not realize when you first look at Form 1040-SR that you're not looking at the standard Form 1040. Many of the lines and sections are the same. The top of the first page is where you enter personal information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and filing status.

This is followed by the section where you must state whether anyone else can claim your or your spouse as a dependent, and it's where you check the appropriate box to indicate that you were born before January 2, 1955, which would mean that you turned 65 during the 2019 tax year.

The next section asks you to identify any dependents you're claiming by name, Social Security number, and their relationship to you.

Next you must report your various sources of income on lines 1 through 7a, such as wages and salaries, dividends and interest, and various retirement benefits, including Social Security. Add them together and enter the total on line 7b.

Lines 8a through 11a are for deductions, and some of these lines correlate with three additional schedules that must be filed with the return. The IRS provides a webpage that explains these schedules in more detail and you can download them as well.

Tax preparation software will also provide you with all the schedules—and complete them for you based on your answers to some questions.

So far, this is all basically the same as Form 1040, but Form 1040-SR has an additional section after line 11b. It's a chart to help you determine the amount of the standard deduction you're entitled to, because seniors age 65 or older receive a larger deduction.

The second page of Form 1040-SR is dedicated to the same information as the standard Form 1040 as well. This is where you'll calculate your tax based on how many tax credits you can claim, and again, additional forms and schedules are required.

Another nice feature of Form 1040-SR is the large typeface designed to be easier on older eyes for taxpayers who prefer to print out the return and fill it in by hand.

Can Form 1040-SR Be E-Filed?

Form 1040-SR can be filed electronically, just as Form 1040 can.

Where to Mail Form 1040-SR

If you prefer not to e-file, the mailing address for your completed tax return depends on the state in which you live and whether you're enclosing a payment. The IRS provides a webpage listing the addresses for each state.

Benefits of Form 1040-SR

Many seniors were forced to file the more complicated Form 1040 in past years simply by virtue of the nature of their retirement incomes. The IRS provided Form 1040-EZ through 2017 to make the process easier, but this form limited overall income to $100,000 and interest income to $1,500 annually.

The 1040-SR doesn't put a limit on interest, dividends, or capital gains, nor does it cap overall income.

Form 1040-EZ was repealed effective 2018 when the IRS revamped the standard Form 1040 tax return. Even seniors who met the 1040-EZ income requirements no longer had that option.

Key Takeaways

  • Federal legislation passed in 2018 provided for a Form 1040 tax return designed specifically to meet the needs of senior citizens.
  • Taxpayers must be at least age 65 to use Form 1040-SR, with one exception. Only one spouse must be age 65 or older if they’re filing a joint married return.
  • The form is very similar to the standard 1040, but the font is larger and clearer and the 1040-SR includes a chart for helping seniors determine the additional amount of the standard deduction that they’re entitled to. 

Article Sources