For most taxpayers, Form 1040 is the form you need. Form 1040 was simplified and shortened since 2018 returns, and Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ were eliminated.
Since 2019, a new Form 1040-SR becomes an option for taxpayers over age 65. Form 1040-SR is specifically designed for the seniors with slightly larger text, and a standard deduction chart to easily look for the increased deduction when a taxpayer is over age 65 and/or with vision loss.
The Schedule 1, 2 and 3 are used for more complicated tax returns.
Schedule 1 for additional income & adjustments to income.
Additional income such as:
- business or farm income,
- unemployment benefits,
- prize or award money,
- gambling winnings
Adjustments to income means above-the-line deductions, such as:
- student loan interest,
- educator expenses,
- self-employment tax).
Schedule 2 is for taxes.
If you owe alternative minimum tax or need to repay excess advance premium tax credit, as well as self-employment taxes or repayment of the first-time homebuyer credit, you’ll need to handle it/them in Schedule 2.
Schedule 3 is for payments and credits.
- estimated tax payments,
- Child and Dependent Care Credit,
- education credits,
- the net premium tax credit,
- the foreign tax credit.
The original Form 1040 contains these schedules but they are relevant to fewer taxpayers. The new version of Form 1040 removed them from the form and set up in Schedule 1 – 3. In this way, Form 1040 looks easier and simpler for most taxpayers.
The IRS has also made some combinations of the schedules, there used to be six schedules, now there’re only three.