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Essential Guide to IRS Tax Filing

  • By Bob Goren
  • Published 11/30/2011

To pay Uncle Sam his dues, it is our legal obligation to file tax returns. Both US residents and tax-exempt organizations need to report their financial information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on a yearly basis.

Official tax return forms are needed for the IRS to process your income levels and calculate the related taxes which you owe to the Federal Government.

This guide will outline the facts you need to know about IRS tax forms.

Overview of Tax Return Forms

There are over 800 tax forms and schedules which are applicable for taxation, depending on the category you fall into.

US residents who earn a gross income in excess of a specified amount (this is adjusted annually for inflation) are required by law to file Federal income tax returns. Gross income is calculated as any income you make, regardless of the source of income. Even income from illegitimate business is subject to tax – this is how they finally put Al Capone behind bars!

Federal returns will include details of tax liabilities, payments and other financial information that need to be filed with the IRS.

Form 1040 and Its Variants

Form 1040

This is the standard individual Federal tax return for US taxpayers. It may require supplemental forms, depending on your financial circumstances. If you submit any incorrect information on this return, you will have to file the Amended US Individual Income Tax Return called Form 1040X.

Form 1040A

This form is shorter version of Form 1040. It is used by taxpayers who have a taxable income that falls below $100,000 and who only claim standard deductions rather than itemized deductions.

Form 1040EZ

This is called the “easy form” because it is the simplest. You will be eligible to complete it for your annual return if you are a single or joint income tax payer with no dependents. Like Form 1040A, you will also have an income below $100,000 and only claim standard deductions to qualify.

Ways to Get Your IRS Tax Forms

Here is a list of resources where you can get the tax filing forms and information you need:

· Individuals and business taxpayers who have been advised by the IRS that they will no longer receive their income tax packages in the mail can download all the information necessary for filling out their tax forms via the Internet. Now you can even complete and file your tax return in this way. Remember however that when completing an e-file return and signing it electronically, you will need to have your electronic signature authenticated.

· Local IRS offices will have everything you need.

· Many public and private community institutions will carry IRS materials, such as post offices, public libraries, office supply stores, places of employment, credit unions, grocery stores and local government offices.

Most IRS tax forms and other materials are available in alternative formats such as Braille, large print, html and Pdf files.

IRS Notices

If you make any errors or irregularities are found once you file your taxes, the IRS will send you a notice to point out any anomalies they want clarified. It will clearly explain the issue and provide simple instructions for solving any problems.

Taxpayer Rights when Filing IRS Tax Forms

Whatever IRS tax form you file, whether it’s Form1040EZ or a more complicated corporate return, it’s good to know you have you have rights as a tax payer:

Protection of Civil Rights

No-one can be discriminated against because of their race, color, sex, disability, reprisal or age.

Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)

This program helps taxpayers with tax problems that have not been solved through normal channels.

Protection of Confidentiality

You are entitled to guaranteed confidentiality when you receive tax advice by any federally authorized tax practitioner, in the same way as attorney/ client privilege.


Every taxpayer is entitled to have access to representation. The Low Income Tax Clinic is a grant program designed to help accredited academic institutions and non-profit organizations provide low to no-cost tax assistance (such as representing the taxpayer during an audit or tax collection effort) and a tax outreach service to those for whom English is a second language.


The IRS accepts most taxpayer’s returns as filed, but if your return is queried or selected for examination, this does not necessarily mean that you have done something wrong. In any event, you have the right to appeal actions taken by the IRS regarding your taxes.


Filling out your IRS tax forms and filing them does not need to be a major headache, providing you have the correct materials and follow the instructions carefully.

About the Author: Bob Goren is an independent advisor on IRS tax forms.



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