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About Form 1040

Form 1040 is the most complex of the three major individual tax forms. However, it offers many tax breaks you can't get if you file a simpler form, like Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A. You can report all types of income, expenses, and credits on a 1040.

If you receive these types of income, you must file a 1040:

  • Self-employment income
  • Tips you didn't report to your employer
  • Income you receive as one of these:
    • Partner in a partnership
    • Shareholder in an S corporation
    • Beneficiary of an estate or trust
  • Insurance policy dividends that are more than the premiums you paid
  • Interest you received or paid on securities that were transferred between interest payment dates
  • Distributions from a foreign trust

You also must file a 1040 if any of these apply:

  • You qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. To learn more, see the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion tax tip.
  • You qualify to exclude income from sources in Puerto Rico or American Samoa since you were a bona fide resident of either.
  • You have an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) adjustment on stock you got by exercising an incentive stock option.
  • You owe excise tax on insider stock compensation you got from an expatriated corporation.
  • You're reporting an original issue discount (OID) amount that doesn't match the amount on Form 1099-OID. To learn more, see Publication 1212: List of Original Issue Discount Instruments at
  • You owe household employment taxes. To learn more, see Schedule H instructions.
  • You're eligible for the premium tax credit. To learn more, see the Form 8962 instructions.
  • You're claiming the adoption credit or you received employer-provided adoption benefits. To learn more, see the Adoption Expenses tax tip.
  • You're a debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after Oct. 16, 2005.
  • Your employer didn’t withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from your pay.
  • You had a qualified health savings account (HSA) funding distribution from your IRA.
  • You have a loss attributable to a federally declared disaster area.
  • You’re repaying the first-time homebuyer credit.

To learn more, see Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income at

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