Reporting Social Security Tax Withheld—Preparing Your 1040

Reporting Tax Payments on Form 1040

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Completing IRS Form 1040 isn't just about tallying up all the sources of income you earned during the year. It records your tax payments as well on lines 25 through 32 of your 2020 tax return. They're totaled on line 33 and applied to your total tax due. They'll result either in an overpayment—which means you'll receive a refund—or an underpayment, so you'll owe a balance.

Tax payments that appear on these lines include withholding, estimated tax payments, the Earned Income Tax Credit, excess Social Security withholding, the Additional Child Tax Credit, and any payment you might have made if you asked for an extension of time to file.

The 2020 Form 1040 is significantly different from the ones that were used for tax years 2017 and earlier. The IRS has redesigned three times beginning in 2018. All lines and boxes cited here refer to the 2020 version of the form.

Line 25a: Withholding on W-2 and 1099

Gather your W-2 Forms and 1099 statements for the year. Look at box 2 on the W-2s and at box 4 on your 1099s. Both should be titled, "Federal Income Tax Withheld."

The figures in these boxes report how much income tax was withheld from your income over the course of the year. Add up all these amounts and report the total on lines 25a or 25b of your Form 1040. 

Taxes typically aren't withheld from 1099 income, so you're likely to find that box 4 on this form is blank.

Attach one copy of your W-2 form to the front of your 1040 if you file a paper return rather than electronically file your return. Otherwise, the IRS already has a copy because your employer files one with them as well. You should attach one copy of each of your 1099 forms as well if you have any.

Withholding on 1099 Income

Income tax isn't withheld from 1099 income in most cases, but some income sources from which it might be include:

  • 1099-G, box 4: Withholding on unemployment income
  • 1099-R, box 4: Withholding on retirement income
  • SSA-1099, box 6: Withholding on Social Security benefits
  • 1099-INT, box 4: Withholding on interest income
  • 1099-DIV, box 4: Withholding on dividend income
  • 1099-NEC, box 4: Withholding on miscellaneous and non-employee compensation

Line 27: Earned Income Tax Credit

The amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit you're entitled goes on line 27 of your 2020 Form 1040 if you qualify for it. You can complete Schedule EIC to determine the amount of your credit.

Tax credits act just like payments you've made. They come off your tax obligation dollar for dollar. Some are even refundable, so the IRS will send you any cash that's left over after erasing what you owe.

You would enter the amount of a nontaxable combat pay election on line 18a as well.

Line 28: Additional Child Tax Credit

Claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit is a two-step process. You must first make sure you qualify by answering the questions in the Instructions for Form 1040. Your initial Child Tax Credit can be reduced by any tax you might owe, but you might be able to claim the balance as an Additional Child Tax Credit by completing and filing Form 8812.

Complete Form 8812 to find out if you qualify and, if so, how much of a credit you're entitled to. Enter it on line 28 of your 1040. 

Line 29: American Opportunity Tax Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is for educational costs you paid on behalf of you, your spouse, or any of your dependents. You can calculate it by completing Form 8863. The amount of the credit you're entitled to appears on line 8 of Form 8863, and you would enter this amount on line 29 of your 1040 tax return. 

Line 26: Estimated Tax Payments

Add up any quarterly estimated tax payments you made during the year. You might have done this because you expected you would owe more than the amount of your withholding, perhaps due to self-employment income, interest, or dividends. Include any portion of refunds from previous years that you elected to apply toward your current year's tax obligation.

Enter this total on line 12d of Schedule 3, which accompanies the 2020 tax return, and transfer the total to line 31 of your 1040.

Line 31: Net Premium Tax Credit

This is another credit that must be entered on Schedule 3. It's intended to reimburse you for some portion of the health insurance premiums you paid if you purchased your policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Complete Form 8962 to determine whether you qualify for the Premium Tax Credit and, if so, how much of a credit you're entitled to. 

The amount of your credit goes on line 8 of Schedule 3, and the total from lines 8 through 12f of Schedule 3 transfers to line 31 of the 2020 Form 1040.

Line 31: Amount Paid With Extension to File 

Enter the amount on line 9 of Schedule 3 if you asked for an automatic extension to file your tax return by submitting Form 4868 to the IRS, and if you made a payment when you sent in the form. This, too, transfers with the total from lines 8 through 12f to line 31 of your 1040.

You can skip this line if you didn't file for an extension or didn't make a payment with your extension.

Line 31: Excess Social Security Tax

Excess Social Security tax is calculated based on each year's maximum Social Security tax limits. The maximum Social Security tax was $8,537.40 per year in 2020, which represents 6.2% of taxable wages up to that year's Social Security wage base: $137,700. Your employer would match this and pay another 6.2%.

You don't have to pay Social Security tax on wages over the wage base, at least for the current year. Withholding begins again on January 1 of the new year, however.

This maximum limit can increase annually, so make sure you get the right number for the year for which you're filing a tax return. 

You can find out how much you paid into Social Security by checking box 4 on all your 2020 W-2 statements. Add up the amounts that appear in this box if you have multiple W-2s, then compare your total to the maximum Social Security tax for the year. You can claim the excess as a refund if the total exceeds the maximum. The excess is your total Social Security withholding minus the maximum.

Enter this on line 10 of Schedule 3, and transfer the total from Schedule 3 to line 31 of your Form 1040. You can skip this line if your total is less than the maximum.

Line 31: Credit for Federal Tax on Fuels

Form 4136 reports federal taxes paid on gasoline and other fuels if you used the fuel for allowable non-taxable purposes. Your payment amount appears on page 4, line 17 of the form, and it's also entered on line 11 of Schedule 3. The total from this section of the schedule is transferred to line 31 of your 2020 Form 1040.

Your Total Payments

Add up all the amounts that appear on Form 1040 lines 16 through 32. Report the total on line 33. This amount represents your total tax payments throughout the year.

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "Here Are Five Facts About the New Form 1040." Accessed Nov. 15, 2020.

  2. IRS. "Credits and Deductions for Individuals." Accessed Nov. 14, 2020.

  3. IRS. "Publication 972 Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents." Page 5. Accessed Nov. 14, 2020.

  4. IRS. "Estimated Taxes." Accessed Nov. 14, 2020.

  5. IRS. "The Premium Tax Credit - The Basics." Accessed Nov. 14, 2020.

  6. Social Security Administration. "Fact Sheet." Page 1. Accessed Nov. 14, 2020.