If you’re looking for form 1040EZ for the 2018 tax year, you won’t find it: After a few decades, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has pulled the plug on the form. The recently redesigned form 1040 is intended to replace not only the old form 1040 but also forms 1040A and 1040EZ.
The old form 1040EZ used to be a simple return. You could opt to file a federal form 1040EZ if you filed as single or married filing jointly with no dependents. You typically could file 1040EZ so long as you did not itemize or claim the additional standard deductions (available to those taxpayers who are blind or over age 65) and if your taxable income, consisting only of wages, salaries and tips, was less than $100,000.
Form 1040EZ had been around since the 1980s. It was part of an initiative to make filing your taxes easier (feel free to mull about how the form was eliminated for the same reason). The so-called “mother of the form 1040EZ” was Carolyn Tavenner, who recently retired after nearly five decades at the IRS. (You can read more about Tavenner here.)
The old form 1040-A was a compromise between the form 1040 and the form 1040EZ. You used to be able to file a form 1040-A if your taxable income from the same kinds of income as you’d claim on form 1040EZ plus interest and dividends, capital gain distributions, IRA distributions, distributions from pensions and annuities, and taxable Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits was less than $100,000. Unlike on form 1040EZ, you could use form 1040-A to claim certain “above the line” adjustments, including educators’ expenses, IRA deductions, student loan interest deductions, and tuition and fees deductions (above-the-line deductions are those you can claim even if you don’t itemize your deductions). You couldn’t itemize your deductions on form 1040-A, but you could only claim a limited number of tax credits, including the child tax credit, education credits, earned income credit, credit for child and dependent care expenses, credit for the elderly or the disabled and the American Opportunity Credit.
Now that forms 1040EZ and 1040-A have been eliminated, the plan is for taxpayers to only file the new form 1040 plus any schedules that apply. The new form 1040 has six new numbered schedules in addition to the existing lettered schedules like Schedules A, B, C, D, E, and F. You can find out more about the new form 1040 here.
If this feels confusing, don’t panic. If you are filing your federal income tax return electronically, you may not notice any changes at all, since your software should automatically add any needed schedules. If you use a tax preparer, you also may not notice any changes; if you have questions about why your final return looks different, just ask.