1. Gather your tax documents.
Collect your W-2 forms, 1099s for any miscellaneous income such as freelance work or interest income, and any other forms related to credits or deductions you are claiming. This can include receipts for charitable donations, tuition payments, medical expenses, and more. Make sure that the information on these forms matches what is entered on your 1040 form.
2. Check your Social Security number.
Make sure that the Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) listed on the 1040 form is correct, as mismatched numbers can lead to processing delays or potential errors.
3. Complete the form header information.
Fill in all of the personal information at the top of Form 1040, including name and address. This should match what’s reported on other tax documents such as W-2s and 1099s.
4. Report income.
List income from wages, salaries, tips, investments, pensions, and any other sources that must be reported on the 1040.
5. Subtract adjustments to income.
Adjusted gross income (AGI) is calculated by subtracting certain deductions from your total income, such as student loan interest, moving expenses, and alimony paid.
6. Report deductions and credits.
On Form 1040, list any deductions or credits that you are claiming, such as those for charitable donations, medical expenses, childcare costs, education expenses, or tax credits
7. Figure your tax liability.
Use the tax tables in the instructions to calculate your taxes owed based on taxable income and filing status. Be sure to double-check the numbers before submitting them to avoid potential errors that could lead to a higher tax bill or penalties.
8. Enter payments and amount due.
Record any taxes already paid, such as estimated taxes or withholding from paychecks, in the appropriate section of the 1040 form. Any remaining balance due should then be entered to determine if you need to make an additional payment before submitting your return.
9. Review and file the return.
Verify that all information is accurate before signing and sending it off—mistakes can lead to errors in processing or potential penalties down the road. You may choose to prepare your own return with paper forms, use tax-preparation software, or have a professional do it for you
10. Request a refund or make an estimated payment.
If you are due a refund, consider setting up direct deposit so that you can receive your money sooner. If you owe taxes, make sure to pay on time to avoid any penalties or late fees. You may also need to set up estimated payments if you expect to owe more than $1,000 in taxes throughout the year