IRS issues updated version of tax form only for seniors

With a few months into the new tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the second draft federal Form 1040-SR, US Income Tax Return for Seniors. The form, with larger font and less complicated boxes, is intended to make life easier for some of the roughly 15 million senior households expected to file income tax returns in 2020.

Taxpayers first learned of the new 1040-SR in December 2017 as part of the President’s Mark of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In that initial markup, Congress proposed a new federal form 1040-SR intended for people 65 years of age or older. At the time, the form was described as “as similar as possible to Form 1040EZ”. The difference was supposed to be that the use of Form 1040-SR would not be limited by taxable income or by certain types of income.

The following year, the IRS withdrew Form 1040EZ (used by about 25 million taxpayers). This is why you did not see a Form 1040EZ during the 2019 tax season. The newly redesigned Form 1040 (which was redesigned again in July 2019) replaced the old Form 1040 and Forms 1040A and 1040EZ.

(You can read more about the 1040EZ, including its history, here.)

Despite the redesigned Form 1040 and the elimination of Form 1040EZ, there was no Form 1040-SR in 2019. This is because Form 1040-SR was not incorporated into the TCJA. Instead, it was passed as part of the bipartisan budget law of 2018. Under that law, Congress ordered the IRS to design Form 1040-SR to be “as similar as possible on Form 1040EZ “with a few exceptions, including” only for individuals who have reached the age of 65 at the end of the tax year.

Unlike the old Form 1040EZ, there are no income limits or restrictions on the types of income that can be reported on the Form 1040-SR. But unlike the old Form 1040EZ, the Draft Form 1040-SR allows taxpayers to claim the standard deduction or itemize the deductions. The standard deduction amounts for the 2019 tax year are $ 12,200 for individuals, $ 18,350 for heads of households, and $ 24,400 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses. For 2019, the amount of the additional standard deduction for the elderly or blind is $ 1,300. The amount of the additional standard deduction increases to $ 1,650 for single taxpayers. (You can find tax rates, standard deduction amounts and more for the 2019 tax year here. You can see the projected amounts for 2020 here.)

Like the first version of Form 1040-SR, the most recent version is two pages long, but you may need to attach additional schedules.

This is what the first page looks like:

And this is what the second page looks like:

You can view the full version of the 2019 project here (download in PDF format).

Remember, this is only a draft. The IRS warns on the front page: Do not submit draft forms and do not rely on draft forms, instructions and publications for filing.

That means the IRS could still make changes: this version is, after all, only a few months older than the last draft available for public inspection. The IRS takes comments on the draft forms into account. You can email yours to WI.1040.Comments@IRS.gov.

While 15 million taxpayers could benefit from the new form – around 10% of taxpayers – that number is likely high. Many seniors do not complete their tax returns by hand: even the most tech-savvy use tax software or hire a tax professional; overall, almost 90% of taxpayers are expected to use a tax preparer or file electronically.


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