The following rules apply to all U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and resident aliens.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP2b5e6107
Were you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) age 65 or older at the end of 2008? If you were born on January 1, 1944, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2008.
| ||Yes. Use Pub. 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, to find out if you must file a return. If you do, you must use Form 1040A or 1040. |
| ||No. Use the Filing Requirement Charts beginning on page 6 to see if you must file a return. |
Even if you otherwise do not have to file a return, you should file one to get a refund of any federal income tax withheld. You also should file if you are eligible for the earned income credit or recovery rebate credit.
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If certain conditions apply, you can elect to include on your return the income of a child who was under age 19 at the end of 2008 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2008. But you must use Form 1040 and Form 8814 to do so. If you make this election, your child does not have to file a return. For details, use TeleTax topic 553 (see page 27) or see Form 8814.
A child born on January 1, 1990, is considered to be age 19 at the end of 2008. Similarly, a child born on January 1, 1985, is considered to be age 24 at the end of 2008. Do not use Form 8814 for such a child.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP477dfdb4
These rules also apply if you were a resident alien. Also, you may qualify for certain tax treaty benefits. See Pub. 519 for details.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP5c5fc503
These rules also apply if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and both of the following apply.
- You were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2008.
- You elected to be taxed as a resident alien.
See Pub. 519 for details.
Specific rules apply to determine if you are a resident alien, nonresident alien, or dual-status alien. Most nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens have different filing requirements and may have to file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ. Pub. 519 discusses these requirements and other information to help aliens comply with U.S. tax law, including tax treaty benefits, and special rules for students and scholars.
File Form 1040EZ by April 15, 2009. If you file after this date, you may have to pay interest and penalties. See What if You Cannot File on Time? on page 22 for information on how to get more time to file. There is also information about interest and penalties.
If you were serving in, or in support of, the U.S. Armed Forces in a designated combat zone, qualified hazardous duty area, or a contingency operation, you can file later. See Pub. 3 for details.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP37989ca7
You can use Form 1040EZ if all
the items in this checklist apply.
| ||Your filing status is single or married filing jointly (see page 6). If you were a nonresident alien at any time in 2008, see Nonresident aliens on page 6. |
| ||You do not claim any dependents.|
| ||You do not claim any adjustments to income. Use TeleTax topics 451-453 and 455-458 (see page 27).|
| ||You can claim only the earned income credit and the recovery rebate credit. Use TeleTax topics 601-602, 607-608, and 610-611 (see page 27). |
| ||You (and your spouse if filing a joint return) were under age 65 and not blind at the end of 2008. If you were born on January 1, 1944, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2008 and cannot use Form 1040EZ. |
| ||Your taxable income (line 6 of Form 1040EZ) is less than $100,000.|
| ||You had only wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship or fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and your taxable interest was not over $1,500. |
| ||You did not receive any advance earned income credit payments.|
| ||You do not owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee. To find out who owes these taxes, use TeleTax topic 756 (see page 27). |
| ||You are not a debtor in a chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed after October 16, 2005.|
| ||You are not claiming the additional standard deduction for real estate taxes or disaster losses.|
If you do not meet all of the requirements, you must use Form 1040A or 1040. Use TeleTax topic 352 (see page 27) to find out which form to use.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP6cd9a8d3
If you were a nonresident alien at any time in 2008, your filing status must be married filing jointly to use Form 1040EZ. If your filing status is not married filing jointly, you may have to use Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Specific rules apply to determine if you were a nonresident or resident alien. See Pub. 519 for details, including the rules for students and scholars who are aliens.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP50ffac84
Even if you can use Form 1040EZ, it may benefit you to use Form 1040A or 1040 instead. For example, you can claim the head of household filing status (which usually results in a lower tax than single) only on Form 1040A or 1040. You can claim the retirement savings contributions credit (saver's credit) only on Form 1040A or 1040. Use TeleTax topic 610 (see page 27).taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP252b4dac
You can itemize deductions only on Form 1040. You would benefit by itemizing if your itemized deductions total more than your standard deduction: $5,450 for most single people; $10,900 for most married people filing a joint return. Use TeleTax topic 501 (see page 27). But if someone can claim you (or your spouse if married) as a dependent, your standard deduction is the amount on line E of the worksheet on page 2 of Form 1040EZ.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP7dcc9719taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP3102021a
Use this filing status if any of the following was true on December 31, 2008.
- You never were married.
- You were legally separated, according to your state law, under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance.
- You were widowed before January 1, 2008, and did not remarry in 2008.
Use this filing status if any of the following apply.
- You were married at the end of 2008, even if you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2008.
- Your spouse died in 2008 and you did not remarry in 2008.
- You were married at the end of 2008, and your spouse died in 2009 before filing a 2008 return.
For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife. A husband and wife filing jointly report their combined income and deduct their combined allowable expenses on one return. A husband and wife can file a joint return even if only one had income or if they did not live together all year. However, both persons must sign the return. Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.taxmap/instr/i1040ez-006.htm#TXMP1b7d5da8
If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse are generally responsible for the tax and any interest or penalties due on the return. This means that if one spouse does not pay the tax due, the other may have to. However, see Innocent spouse relief on page 23.