skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index

Tax Topics

About Tax Map Website
Publication 17

Your Federal 
Income Tax


For Individuals

All material in this publication may be reprinted freely. A citation to Your Federal Income Tax (2010) would be appropriate.
The explanations and examples in this publication reflect the interpretation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of:
  • Tax laws enacted by Congress,
  • Treasury regulations, and
  • Court decisions.
However, the information given does not cover every situation and is not intended to replace the law or change its meaning.
This publication covers some subjects on which a court may have made a decision more favorable to taxpayers than the interpretation by the IRS. Until these differing interpretations are resolved by higher court decisions or in some other way, this publication will continue to present the interpretations by the IRS.
All taxpayers have important rights when working with the IRS. These rights are described in Your Rights as a Taxpayer in the back of this publication.

What's New for 2010(p1)

This section summarizes important tax changes that took effect in 2010. Most of these changes are discussed in more detail throughout this publication.
Changes are also discussed at Click on Forms and Publications and then on Highlights of Recent Tax Changes.

Due date of return.(p1)

File Form 1040 by April 18, 2011. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia — even if you do not live in the District of Columbia.

Limits on personal exemptions and overall itemized deductions ended.(p1)

For 2010, you will no longer lose part of your deduction for personal exemptions and itemized deductions, regardless of the amount of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

Self-employed health insurance deduction.(p1)

Effective March 30, 2010, if you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to include in your self-employed health insurance deduction any premiums you paid to cover your child who was under age 27 at the end of 2010, even if the child was not your dependent. See chapter 21.

Standard deduction increased.(p1)

The standard deduction for some taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040 is higher in 2010 than it was in 2009. The amount depends on your filing status. In addition to the annual increase for some taxpayers due to inflation adjustments, your 2010 standard deduction is also increased by:  
You can use the 2010 Standard Deduction Worksheet in chapter 20 of this publication to figure your standard deduction. But to increase your standard deduction by taxes paid on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or a net disaster loss, you must use Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to your return.
At the time this publication went to print, Congress was considering legislation that would provide an increased standard deduction for real estate taxes or for a net disaster loss from a disaster occurring in 2010. To find out if this legislation was enacted, and for more details, see Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) or check

Adoption credit.(p1)

The adoption credit is now refundable. Also, to claim the credit, you must include an adoption order or decree or certain other documents with your return. See chapter 37.

First-time homebuyer credit.(p1)

You generally cannot claim the credit for a home you bought after April 30, 2010. However, you may be able to claim the credit if you entered into a written binding contract before May 1, 2010, to buy the home before July 1, 2010, and actually bought the home before October 1, 2010. Also, certain members of the Armed Forces and certain other taxpayers have additional time to buy a home and take the credit. See chapter 37.

Repayment of first-time homebuyer credit.(p1)

If you claimed the first-time homebuyer credit for a home you bought in 2008, you generally must begin repaying it on your 2010 return. In addition, you generally must repay any credit you claimed for 2008 or 2009 if you sold your home in 2010 or the home stopped being your main home in 2010. See chapter 37.

Roth IRAs.(p1)

Beginning in 2010, you can make a qualified rollover contribution to a Roth IRA regardless of the amount of your modified AGI.
Also, half of any income that results from a rollover or conversion to a Roth IRA from another retirement plan in 2010 is included in income in 2011, and the other half in 2012, unless you elect to include all of it in 2010. See chapters 10 and 17.

Standard mileage rates.(p1)

For 2010, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for business use is 50 cents a mile. See chapter 26.
For 2010, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for medical reasons is 161/2 cents a mile. See chapter 21.
For 2010, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for determining moving expenses is 161/2 cents a mile. See Publication 521, Moving Expenses.

Corrosive drywall.(p1)

You may be able to claim a casualty loss deduction for amounts you paid to repair damage to your home and household appliances that resulted from corrosive drywall. The deduction is limited if you have a pending claim for reimbursement (or intend to pursue reimbursement) through property insurance, litigation, or other means. See chapter 25.

Personal casualty and theft loss limit.(p1)

Each personal casualty or theft loss is limited to the excess of the loss over $100 (instead of the $500 limit that applied for 2009). In addition, the 10%-of-AGI limit generally continues to apply to the net loss. See chapter 25
At the time this publication went to print, Congress was considering legislation that would increase the loss limit described above. To find out if legislation was enacted and for more details, see the 2010 Instructions for Form 4684.

Divorced or separated parents.(p1)

A custodial parent who has revoked his or her previous release of a claim to a child's exemption must include a copy of the revocation with his or her return. See chapter 3.

Expired tax benefits.(p1)

The following tax benefits have expired and are not available for 2010.
At the time this publication went to print, Congress was considering legislation that would reinstate many of these expired tax benefits. To find out if this legislation was enacted, and for more details, go to

Mailing your return.(p1)

If you are filing a paper return, you may be mailing your return to a different address this year because the IRS has changed the filing location for several areas. See the instructions for the form you file.

Preparer e-file mandate.(p1)

A new law requires some paid preparers to e-file returns they prepare and file. Your preparer may make you aware of this requirement and the options available to you.


Listed below are important reminders and other items that may help you file your 2010 tax return. Many of these items are explained in more detail later in this publication.

Enter your social security number (SSN).(p2)

Enter your SSN in the space provided on your tax form. If you filed a joint return for 2009 and are filing a joint return for 2010 with the same spouse, enter your names and SSNs in the same order as on your 2009 return. See chapter 1.

Secure your tax records from identity theft.(p2)

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, SSN, or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. An identity thief may use your SSN to get a job or may file a tax return using your SSN to receive a refund.
To reduce your risk:
If your tax records are affected by identity theft and you receive a notice from the IRS, respond right away to the name and phone number printed on the IRS notice or letter.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft but you think you are at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc., contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 or submit Form 14039.
For more information, see Publication 4535, Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance.
Victims of identity theft who are experiencing economic harm or a systemic problem, or are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, may be eligible for Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) assistance. You can reach TAS by calling the National Taxpayer Advocate helpline toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.
Protect yourself from suspicious emails or phishing schemes. Phishing is the creation and use of email and websites designed to mimic legitimate business emails and websites. The most common form is the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.
The IRS does not initiate contacts with taxpayers via emails. Also, the IRS does not request detailed personal information through email or ask taxpayers for the PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank, or other financial accounts.
If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, forward the message to: You may also report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms or other IRS property to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration toll-free at 1-800-366-4484. You can forward suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at: or contact them at or 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
Visit and enter "identity theft" in the search box to learn more about identity theft and how to reduce your risk.

Taxpayer identification numbers.(p2)

You must provide the taxpayer identification number for each person for whom you claim certain tax benefits. This applies even if the person was born in 2010. Generally, this number is the person's social security number (SSN). See chapter 1.

Foreign source income.(p2)

If you are a U.S. citizen with income from sources outside the United States (foreign income), you must report all such income on your tax return unless it is exempt by U.S. law. This is true whether you reside inside or outside the United States and whether or not you receive a Form W-2 or Form 1099 from the foreign payer. This applies to earned income (such as wages and tips) as well as unearned income (such as interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, rents and royalties).
If you reside outside the United States, you may be able to exclude part or all of your foreign source earned income. For details, see Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

Automatic 6-month extension to file tax return.(p2)

You can use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to obtain an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your tax return. See chapter 1.

Include your phone number on your return.(p2)

To promptly resolve any questions we have in processing your tax return, we would like to be able to call you. Please enter your daytime telephone number on your tax form next to your signature.

Payment of taxes.(p2)

Make your check or money order payable to "United States Treasury." You can pay your taxes by credit or debit card, using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or, if you file electronically, by electronic funds withdrawal. See chapter 1.

Faster ways to file your return.(p2)

The IRS offers fast, accurate ways to file your tax return information without filing a paper tax return. You can use IRS e-file (electronic filing). See chapter 1.

Free electronic filing.(p2)

You may be able to file your 2010 taxes online for free thanks to an electronic filing agreement. See chapter 1.

Change of address.(p2)

If you change your address, you should notify the IRS. See Change of Address, under What Happens After I File, in chapter 1.

Refund on a late filed return.(p2)

If you were due a refund but you did not file a return, you generally must file your return within 3 years from the date the return was due (including extensions) to get that refund. See chapter 1.

Frivolous tax submissions.(p2)

The IRS has published a list of positions that are identified as frivolous. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000. Also, the $5,000 penalty will apply to other specified frivolous submissions. See chapter 1.

Filing erroneous claim for refund or credit.(p2)

You may have to pay a penalty if you file an erroneous claim for refund or credit. See chapter 1.

Privacy Act and paperwork reduction information.(p2)

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 require that when we ask you for information we must first tell you what our legal right is to ask for the information, why we are asking for it, how it will be used, what could happen if we do not receive it, and whether your response is voluntary, required to obtain a benefit, or mandatory under the law. A complete statement on this subject can be found in your tax form instruction booklet.

Customer service for taxpayers.(p2)

The Internal Revenue Service has expanded customer service for taxpayers. You can set up a personal appointment at the most convenient Taxpayer Assistance Center, on the most convenient business day. See How To Get Tax Help in the back of this publication.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.(p2)

If you want to confidentially report misconduct, waste, fraud, or abuse by an IRS employee, you can call 1-800-366-4484 (1-800-877-8339 for TTY/TDD users). You can remain anonymous.

Photographs of missing children.(p2)

The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
This publication covers the general rules for filing a federal income tax return. It supplements the information contained in your tax form instruction booklet. It explains the tax law to make sure you pay only the tax you owe and no more.

How this publication is arranged.(p3)

This publication closely follows Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. It is divided into six parts which cover different sections of Form 1040. Each part is further divided into chapters which generally discuss one line of the form. Do not worry if you file Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. Anything included on a line of either of these forms is also included on Form 1040.
The table of contents inside the front cover and the index in the back of the publication are useful tools to help you find the information you need.

What is in this publication.(p3)

The publication begins with the rules for filing a tax return. It explains:
  1. Who must file a return,
  2. Which tax form to use,
  3. When the return is due,
  4. How to e-file your return, and
  5. Other general information.
It will help you identify which filing status you qualify for, whether you can claim any dependents, and whether the income you receive is taxable. The publication goes on to explain the standard deduction, the kinds of expenses you may be able to deduct, and the various kinds of credits you may be able to take to reduce your tax.
Throughout the publication are examples showing how the tax law applies in typical situations. Sample forms and schedules show you how to report certain items on your return. Also throughout the publication are flowcharts and tables that present tax information in an easy-to-understand manner.
Many of the subjects discussed in this publication are discussed in greater detail in other IRS publications. References to those other publications are provided for your information.
Small graphic symbols, or icons, are used to draw your attention to special information. See Table 1 below for an explanation of each icon used in this publication.

What is not covered in this publication.(p3)

Some material that you may find helpful is not included in this publication but can be found in your tax form instruction booklet. This includes lists of:
If you operate your own business or have other self-employment income, such as from babysitting or selling crafts, see the following publications for more information.

Help from the IRS.(p3)

There are many ways you can get help from the IRS. These are explained under How To Get Tax Help in the back of this publication.

Comments and suggestions.(p3)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service 
Individual Forms and Publications Branch 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at * (The asterisk must be included in the address.) Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p3)
Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.(p3)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

IRS mission.(p3)

Provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.

Table 1. Legend of Icons

caution Items that may cause you particular problems, or an alert about pending legislation that may be enacted after this publication goes to print.
compute An Internet site or an email address.
envelope An address you may need.
files Items you should keep in your personal records.
pencil Items you may need to figure or a worksheet you may need to complete.
phone An important phone number.
taxtip Helpful information you may need.