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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040-A
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP477db477

Filing Status(p12)

rule
Check only the filing status that applies to you. The ones that will usually give you the lowest tax are listed last.
taxtip
More than one filing status can apply to you. You can choose the one that will give you the lowest tax.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP1eb1ff26

Line 1(p13)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP456f9994

Single(p13)

rule
You can check the box on line 1 if any of the following was true on December 31, 2011.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP2592141a

Line 2(p13)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP4b3f0f5c

Married Filing Jointly(p13)

rule
You can check the box on line 2 if any of the following apply.
For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife, and spouse means a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. A husband and wife filing jointly report their combined income and deduct their combined allowable expenses on one return. They 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/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP73fbdf39
Joint and several tax liability.(p13)
rule
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. Or, if one spouse does not report the correct tax, both spouses may be responsible for any additional taxes assessed by the IRS. You may want to file separately if:
See the instructions for line 3. Also see Innocent spouse relief under General Information, later.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP0d758820
Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens.(p13)
rule
Generally, a husband and wife cannot file a joint return if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the year. However, if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2011, you may elect to be treated as a resident alien and file a joint return. See Pub. 519 for details.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP5194e2da

Line 3(p13)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP49a77bc1

Married Filing Separately(p13)

rule
If you are married and file a separate return, you generally report only your own income, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Generally, you are responsible only for the tax on your own income. Different rules apply to people in community property states; see Pub. 555.
However, you will usually pay more tax than if you use another filing status for which you qualify. Also, if you file a separate return, you cannot take the student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, the education credits, or the earned income credit. You also cannot take the standard deduction if your spouse itemizes deductions.
Be sure to enter your spouse's SSN or ITIN on Form 1040A. If your spouse does not have and is not required to have an SSN or ITIN, enter "NRA."
taxtip
You may be able to file as head of household if you had a child living with you and you lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of 2011. See Married persons who live apart, later.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP65c9178d

Line 4(p13)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP5c46022b

Head of Household(p13)

rule
This filing status is for unmarried individuals who provide a home for certain other persons. You are considered unmarried for this purpose if any of the following applies.
Check the box on line 4 only if you are unmarried (or considered unmarried) and either Test 1 or Test 2 applies.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP0f85e785
Test 1.(p13)
rule
You paid over half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for all of 2011 of your parent whom you can claim as a dependent, except under a multiple support agreement (see the line 6c instructions). Your parent did not have to live with you.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP3166f08c
Test 2.(p13)
rule
You paid over half the cost of keeping up a home in which you lived and in which one of the following also lived for more than half of the year (if half or less, see Exception to time lived with you).
  1. Any person whom you can claim as a dependent. But do not include:
    1. Your qualifying child whom you claim as your dependent because of the rule for Children of divorced or separated parents in the line 6c instructions,
    2. Any person who is your dependent only because he or she lived with you for all of 2011, or
    3. Any person you claimed as a dependent under a multiple support agreement. See the line 6c instructions.
  2. Your unmarried qualifying child who is not your dependent.
  3. Your married qualifying child who is not your dependent only because you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2011 return.
  4. Your child who, even though you are the custodial parent, is neither your dependent nor your qualifying child because of the rule for Children of divorced or separated parents in the line 6c instructions.
If the child is not your dependent, enter the child's name on line 4. If you do not enter the name, it will take us longer to process your return.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP3bd55cd8
Qualifying child.(p13)
rule
To find out if someone is your qualifying child, see Step 1 in the line 6c instructions.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP2bba1bbb
Dependent.(p14)
rule
To find out if someone is your dependent, see the instructions for line 6c.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP576e7b8d
Exception to time lived with you.(p14)
rule
Temporary absences by you or the other person for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived in the home. Also see Kidnapped child in the line 6c instructions, if applicable.
If the person for whom you kept up a home was born or died in 2011, you can still file as head of household as long as the home was that person's main home for the part of the year he or she was alive.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP6c8752d9
Keeping up a home.(p14)
rule
To find out what is included in the cost of keeping up a home, see Pub. 501.
If you used payments you received under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or other public assistance programs to pay part of the cost of keeping up your home, you cannot count them as money you paid. However, you must include them in the total cost of keeping up your home to figure if you paid over half the cost.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP171187f9
Married persons who live apart.(p14)
rule
Even if you were not divorced or legally separated at the end of 2011, you are considered unmarried if all of the following apply.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP53b2b4d0
Adopted child.(p14)
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP5cef064d
Foster child.(p14)
A foster child is any child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP37f7fd83

Line 5(p14)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP2091638c

Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child(p14)

rule
You can check the box on line 5 and use joint return tax rates for 2011 if all of the following apply.
If your spouse died in 2011, you cannot file as qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. Instead, see the instructions for line 2.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP683981a2
Adopted child.(p14)
rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP5eacbefa
Dependent.(p14)
rule
To find out if someone is your dependent, see the instructions for line 6c.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP41b9e3b5
Exception to time lived with you.(p14)
rule
Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived in the home. Also see Kidnapped child in the line 6c instructions, if applicable.
A child is considered to have lived with you for all of 2011 if the child was born or died in 2011 and your home was the child's home for the entire time he or she was alive.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-010.htm#TXMP7a931646
Keeping up a home.(p14)
rule
To find out what is included in the cost of keeping up a home, see Pub. 501.
If you used payments you received under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or other public assistance programs to pay part of the cost of keeping up your home, you cannot count them as money you paid. However, you must include them in the total cost of keeping up your home to figure if you paid over half the cost.