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Choose the Simplest Tax Form for Your Situation

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Q: Since I won’t be getting my paper tax package from the IRS this year, how will I get a form to use for my 2012 tax return?
 If you do not use IRS e-file you can get forms and instructions online at, at local IRS offices or from participating community outlets such as libraries or post offices. Taxpayers also may call 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to request the forms by mail. Taxpayers generally can expect to receive their forms through the mail within 10 days.

Q: How will I know which form to use?
 If you use IRS e-file, the system will automatically decide which form you need. If you do not use e-file, you will be choosing between three forms:  1040EZ, 1040A and 1040.
Generally, you should choose Form 1040EZ if:   
• your taxable income below $100,000 does not include any self-employment income;
• your filing status is Single or Married Filing Jointly;
• you and your spouse—if married—are under age 65 and not blind;
• you are not claiming any dependents, adjustments to income or tax credits other than the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC);
• your taxable interest income is $1,500 or less.

If you can't use Form 1040EZ, you may be able to use Form 1040A if:
• your taxable income below $100,000 does not include any self-employment income;
• your capital gain distributions do not include unrecaptured sections 1250 or 1202 collectibles (28 percent) gains;
• you claim only certain tax credits (see Form 1040 information, below);
• you claim adjustments to income only for IRA contributions, student loan interest, educator expenses and/or tuition and fees.

If you cannot use Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, you likely will need to use Form 1040. Use Form 1040 if:
• your taxable income is $100,000 or more;
• you claim itemized deductions;
• you are reporting self-employment income or income from the sale of property;
• you claim any tax credit that is not among the following: Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Expense Credit, the credit for the elderly or disabled, education credits, the Savers Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Additional Tax Credit.

Q: Where can I get more information?
 Visit Tax products are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and often appear online before they are available in paper form. To view and download tax products, visit the IRS website and select Forms and Publications.


This “Law You Can Use” column was prepared by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was provided by the Internal Revenue Service (

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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