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The US government collects taxes from the general population every year around April 15th. Millions of Americans are forced to pay substantially more in taxes on this date, while others receive a refund. A set of forms and laws determine whether you’ll be receiving a refund or a request for more money. The forms associated with your taxes are the following: W4, 1040EZ, 1040A, W2, 1099.

W-4 Form

When you begin working you will be given a W-4 form. The W-4 form allows your employer and the IRS to accurately withhold taxes from your paycheck. If you withhold too much, the government requests additional taxes from you. If you withhold too little, you will receive a tax return. A refund seems beneficial, but there are other issues to consider. The money being returned has been seized from your paycheck over the course of a year. This money could have been invested, used in financial opportunities, or used within your budget. This loss of funds, even temporarily, is a loss of return and interest.

Deductions come from multiple factors on your W-4. If you are qualified for an exemption from the federal government your W-4 allows you to claim exemption by filling in a specific amount of lines and a signature. If you are not exempt, you begin with the personal allowances section and adjust allowances to match your situation. The personal allowances will change your withholdings depending on your marriage status, family size, and alternate family jobs. In this section, you can claim dependents and spouses. If single you can claim status as head of household. You can also claim majority payer, dependent care expenses, and child tax credits.

The second part of your W-4 begins with your “Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate”. This is held by your employer and begins with your basic information. This is followed by the total number of allowances you’re claiming combined with desired additional amounts you want to be withheld from each paycheck. The second page of your W-4 has separate controls for charity, mortgage interest, state or local taxes, and medical expenses over 10% of your income. It also has inputs for non-wage income, which includes dividends and interest. The last part of this form has controls for households with multiple earners or multiple jobs.

Adjustments don’t have to be made initially. You can wait until you’ve paid taxes and then readjust them for the next year by requesting and submitting a new W-4 form with your employer. If you receive a large refund or have a large tax bill requested by the IRS, you should narrow these gaps by adjusting your W-4 form. Your goal is to be as precise as possible.

There are several programs for healthcare and retirement which reduce the amount withheld by the IRS, as well as your taxes in general. Making frequent use of these programs is extremely wise. You should save on taxes whenever you can, using methods which are acceptable to the IRS. Just make sure your withholdings are within tax reason and don’t try to trick the IRS. The possible penalty for perjury is jail.

The W-4 form is the beginning of your tax forms. Your employer will send you a form known as your W-2 each year. This form will also be filed with the IRS. This form is required from every employer for every employee paid more than $600 annually, or any payment if income, social security, or Medicare was withheld. The W-2 form is indirectly based on your W-4 form. You may receive a copy of a 1099-Misc form if you have received over $10 in broker payments or $600 and over in miscellaneous income. This comes from your bank, broker, or the source of the payments. This is also filed with the IRS and is factored into your income received.

Each year Americans pay tax on April 15th, but the actual documentation is paid using one of 3 forms. These forms are 1040, 1040A, and the 1040EZ. We briefly overview the major differences between each form, but for specifics, you should seek a tax professional. The US tax code is complicated, and the full implications of each form couldn’t be fully covered in a dozen pages, much less this one.


The 1040 tax form handles income from the widest possible sources. The list for specific income entries is longest on this form. It features the basic job income entries: Wages, Salaries, and Tips. Entries are also listed for investment income: Taxable Interest, Tax Exempt Interest, Ordinary Dividends, Qualified Dividends, Business Income, Capital Gains, Royalties, Real Estate Rent, Partnership Income, S-Corporation Incomes, and Trusts. Farm income is also included. Many of these are open to those who are self-employed or business owners. Retirement related entries are included, such as Individual Retirement Account distributions, Social Security, Pensions, and Annuities. Gains from life events can be claimed, examples being Alimony and Unemployment. If none of these meet your needs, they’ve included the income category “other”.

The wide variety makes this form preferable if you are self-employed. It also includes places for adjustments that self-employed persons commonly use: Self-employment tax deductible, SEP retirement plans, SIMPLE, and self-employed health insurance deductions.

There are entries for multiple standard deductions including alimony payments, IRA deductions, student loans, health saving plan deductions, moving expenses, and others. This form even includes a section labeled “other taxes”. This is for Self-Employment tax, unreported Social Security or Medicare tax, household employment taxes and other taxes. The 1040 form has categories that reduce obligations as well. It provides entries for taxable refunds, credits, and state or local tax offsets.


The 1040A is more complicated than the 1040ez and simpler than 1040. The benefit is it can be oriented towards many situations. This form initially lets you select one of the multiple familial statuses. You can pick between single, married joint filing, married single filing, head of household, and widowed with a dependent. In any circumstance, you can claim up to six dependents.

The 1040A is primarily used if you have been paid income from Social Security, Individual Retirement Accounts, pensions, annuities, unemployment, or dividends. It also features deductions for educator expenses, Individual Retirement Accounts, deductions, student loan interest, tuition, and fees.

The 1040A form also gives entries for tax credits under multiple circumstances. This includes for dependents, elderly, disabled, children and a few other circumstances. Lastly, it includes entries for your refunds and a calculation of the total tax owed.


The 1040EZ is a highly simplified version of the other two 1040 forms. This is the easiest form to file. The 1040ez is for single or joint married filers with no dependents earning under $100,000. If you use this form you can claim no income adjustments and your taxable interest must be under $1,500.

Basic usage of 1040 forms

All three 1040 forms generally operate the same. Once you’ve selected the document most relevant to your needs, begin with the calculation of your income. After selecting the appropriate form to insert all gains from your salary, wages, tips, dividends, and capital gains within the appropriate entries according to your payment documentation received. Your pre-tax income from 401k, IRA, and flexible spending accounts are excluded.

Your taxable income will also be adjusted by your exemptions. These exemptions are claimed on each form based on your personal or familial situation. There is a standard exemption for single, married joint filings, married separate filings, widowed, and head of household. Some people choose to skip the standard exemption and instead select their own exemptions. This may give you a bigger break on your taxes, but it is only worthwhile if your personal exemptions exceed the standard. 1040, as shown, offers the best in customized deductions.

You’ll eventually complete your calculations of Income, Gross Income Adjustments, Deductions, and tax credits. At this point compare your withholdings and your taxable amount. If the taxable amount exceeds your withholdings, you probably owe taxes to the IRS. If your withholdings exceed your taxable amount, you will probably receive a tax refund. These situations will only come true if your math is accurate.

If you need your tax forms checked by a professional, don’t wait until the last minute. Your taxes are due around April 15, and you need to have them signed and dated. If you are waiting until early April to submit your taxes, use accelerated mail delivery services or contact the IRS for submission alternatives.

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