How the New 1040 Form Changes How You'll File Taxes

The trimmed-down document could be the only piece of paper you need this tax season.
A woman at a desk with papers

President Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was passed and signed into law with the intent of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, but one definite result so far is an upending of how the country usually files its taxes. Nowhere is that change more physically apparent than the new, slimmed-down 1040 form. Because of the elimination of personal exemptions and other complexities from the tax code, the IRS has dispensed with alternate versions of the 1040—namely, the 1040A and the 1040EZ—and streamlined its document into a single sheet of paper.

What's changed with the new 1040?

Prior to the passage of the TCJA, taxpayers would chose between the 1040A, the 1040EZ or the plain 1040. Which form the taxpayer needed depended on the complexity of their situation and other factors, such as self-employed income, income received as a shareholder and more.

The good news is that none of that matters now—we're all required to fill out the new 1040, which asks for basic information such as your name, income earned in wages, number of dependents and so on. However, just because the new 1040 doesn't gather the copious amount of data its predecessor did, that doesn't mean the IRS is suddenly uninterested in that information. Depending on what you have to declare, you'll need to select and fill out the appropriate Schedule form and send it along with you 1040. How do you know which Schedule you need? The IRS helpfully lists it on its website.

Schedule Chart
IRS Schedule Chart

Does the new 1040 cost me more money or time?

For the vast majority of American taxpayers, the switch to a new type of 1040 won't be the sort of earth-shattering news their grandchildren will ask them about decades from now. And if you file your taxes electronically, you won't even see these forms as tax preparation software fills them out automatically after grilling you with questions about your finances. But if you prefer to pay your dues the old-fashioned way, consider yourself warned.

James Ellis

James Ellis is a Staff Writer for ValuePenguin, covering credit, banking, travel and other personal finance topics. He previously wrote for Newsweek, Men's Health, and other nationally-published magazines.

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