New Tax Form for Seniors - the 1040-SR

Tax time can be, well, quite taxing. Deciding which forms you need to complete can be a nightmare for many taxpayers. Just when you think you have it all figured out, the IRS releases new tax forms to match the recently changed tax laws and changes everything.

Some good news is one of the mandates by Congress to the IRS in the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in 2018 was to make filing taxes easier for seniors. To meet this requirement, the IRS released a new tax form specifically designed for seniors, the 1040-SR. Seniors, who qualify, can start using the 1040-SR to file their 2019 tax return.

The new 1040-SR is designed specifically for taxpayers aged 65 years old and older. It uses larger print and is only 2 pages, similar to the old 1040-EZ. However, unlike the 1040-EZ, income is not capped. Also, some of the shading has been removed, so the form is clearer and easier to read. This will make the form much easier to navigate than the 1040.

Do you Qualify to File Tax Form 1040-SR?

Seniors, who are 65 years or older, qualify to use the 1040-SR, if they turned 65 years old (or older) during the tax year they are filing. If you are filing married filing jointly, only one spouse needs to be 65 years old or older. The other spouse can be younger.

Example. Mae and Doug are married and filing a married filing jointly tax return. Mae turned 65 years old this year, but she only turned 64 during the tax year, which they currently are filing. Doug, however, turned 67 years old last year.

If Mae was filing by herself, she would not be able to use the new tax form for seniors, the 1040-SR. However, she would be able to use it next year to file this year’s taxes, if she meets the other criteria. She will need to use tax form 1040 to file the taxes for this tax year. However, in the example, Mae and Doug are filing as married filing jointly. In this situation, they would be able to use the new easier 1040-SR tax form, because Doug turned 65 years old or older during the tax year they are filing.

An important thing to note is there is no income cap applied to the 1040-SR, if the income is derived from sources most applicable to seniors like Social Security, pension, and other qualified retirement plans and annuities, interest, dividends, or capital gains. Although taxpayers need to be 65 years or older, they do not need to be retired. Seniors, who make additional income from wages, salaries, tips, and other income sources, including unemployment, can still qualify to file 1040-SR.

Do I Need to have a Simple Tax Return to File 1040-SR?

Although the 1040-SR is designed to make filing taxes easier for seniors, you do not need to have a simple tax return to use 1040-SR. You can use 1040-SR if you take the standard or itemized deduction. If you take the itemized deduction, you will just need to attach Schedule A. Also, just like with the 1040, you can attach Schedule 1, 2, or 3, as needed. However, many taxpayers will not need any additional forms other than the 1040-SR. The instructions for the 1040-SR are included in the same booklet as the instructions for the 1040, which can be found here.

Bottom Line

The goal of the Bipartisan Budget Act in requiring a tax form specifically for seniors was to make filing taxes easier for older Americans by designing a tax form especially for seniors to use. The 1040-SR is easier to read and complete. To qualify to file 1040-SR, seniors must have turned 65 years old (or older) during the tax year, which they are filing. If married filing jointly, only one of the spouses need to have turned 65 years old during the tax year. However, you do not need to be retired to use 1040-SR. You can still use 1040-SR to report wages from a job or other sources like unemployment.

Even though you can qualify to use 1040-SR, completing your taxes can still be difficult. Depending on your types of income, deductions, and credits, you may need to attach additional schedules and forms. If you have questions regarding whether or not you qualify to use 1040-SR or if you need help completing your taxes, contact the tax professionals at Gudorf Tax Group to schedule an appointment.