What Is Form 1040-A?

IRS Form 1040-A Explained

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Form 1040-A was a simple tax form used by United States taxpayers to file income tax returns. It was taken out of use after 2018 and replaced by Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.

Learn why Form 1040-A was used, why it was removed, and how you should file your tax return without it.

What Is Form 1040-A?

Form 1040-A was a form for filing a federal income tax return. It was designed to simplify the filing process for certain taxpayers and limit the mistakes that can come from using more complex forms.

IRS Form 1040-A 2017 Page 1

Form 1040-A covered the most common types of income, deductions, and credits. In its final iteration, Form 1040-A was only two pages and 51 lines long, not including personal information and the taxpayer's signature.

IRS Form 1040-A 2017 Page 2

Form 1040-A was much faster and easier to prepare by hand than the longer Form 1040, but it covered more deductions and tax credits than Form 1040EZ, the other simplified return option. For example, it was possible to deduct IRA contributions and student loan interest on the 1040-A but not using the 1040EZ.

The last time Form 1040-A was used was in 2018 to file taxes for the 2017 tax year. Beginning in 2019, the IRS combined its many iterations of form 1040, including 1040-A, into two forms, Form 1040 and 1040-SR.

Before 2019, Form 1040-A was used to help determine if students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could qualify for the simplified needs test. After 2019, families are eligible for the simplified needs test if they:

  • Have an adjusted gross income below $75,000
  • Were not required to file schedules A, B, D, E, F, or H as part of their income tax return
  • Were not required to file a Schedule C or have less than a $10,000 net gain or loss reported on a Schedule C

Who Uses Form 1040-A?

Previously, the Form 1040-A was used by taxpayers who:

  • Had a taxable income of less than $100,000
  • Didn't have income from their own farm or business
  • Didn't have income from self-employment or alimony
  • Didn't want to claim an alternative minimum tax adjustment on stock gained from exercising an incentive stock option
  • Claimed the standard deduction instead of itemizing
  • Could only claim credits for the elderly or the disabled, education, child and dependent care expenses, retirement savings contributions, child tax, additional child tax, or earned income

The Form 1040-A was removed from use in 2019, when the IRS rolled out a brand new Form 1040. This new form replaced the old 1040, the 1040EZ, and Form 1040-A.

Beginning in 2019, taxpayers were required to use this new form in place of Form 1040-A.

The new 1040 has been streamlined compared to the old 1040. Taxpayers who used to file Form 1040-A might not notice much of a difference. However, those with more complex tax situations will probably find that they must attach one or more schedules to the new Form 1040.

How to File Form 1040-A

After the 2018 tax year, you should no longer use form 1040-A to file your income tax return. Instead, you will need to use either Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

If you use tax software to prepare your returns, you don't have to worry about which tax form to use. The software will automatically select the appropriate form based on your income and deductions. 

Most taxpayers will need to file Form 1040. Taxpayers who were born before January 2, 1955 have the option to file form 1040-SR. Some taxpayers will also need to file one or more of Schedules I, II, and III.

If you were previously eligible to file Form 1040-A and your income, credits, and deductions have not changed, then you likely need to file only Form 1040 without any attached schedules.

If you are unsure which forms you need to fill out, you can work with a tax preparation specialist or contact the Internal Revenue Service help services.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 1040-A was a simple tax form used by United States taxpayers to file income tax returns.
  • It was taken out of use after 2018 and replaced by Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.
  • Taxpayers who were previously eligible to use Form 1040-A should now use Form 1040 to file their federal income tax return.

Article Sources

  1. Internal Revenue Service. "About Form 1040-A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return." Accessed June 25, 2020. 

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "1040A Instructions 2017," Page 13. Accessed June 25, 2020.

  3. U.S. Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. "FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019." Accessed June 25, 2020.

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "1040 and 1040-SR Instructions Tax Year 2019," Page 6. Accessed June 25, 2020.

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "1040 and 1040-SR Instructions Tax Year 2019," Page 3. Accessed June 25, 2020.