If you’ve filed a federal income tax return anytime since 1913, you’re likely familiar with IRS Form 1040.
Form 1040 was first issued in 1914 for the 1913 tax year following the ratification of the 16th Amendment that created a nationwide income tax. The initial Form 1040 was reused for the first several tax years but has undergone numerous revisions over the ensuing decades. In 2021, more than 169 million Americans used Form 1040 to file their federal tax returns, with another 152 million using Form 1040(e), or electronically filed tax returns.¹
For the millions of Americans aged 65 and older who still complete their taxes in longhand, the IRS made some important changes to Form 1040 to help them more easily complete their taxes. The new Form 1040-SR includes some special considerations for seniors with age-related vision problems. We’ll highlight those elements below.
Changes to Form 1040-SR
Form 1040-SR was signed into law by President Trump as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and was put into use in 2019. Form 1040-SR was created specifically for seniors who are at least 65 years old by the end of the tax year in which they are filing. For the 2021 tax year, you must have been born before January 2, 1957. However, if you are married and filing jointly, only one taxpayer must meet this age requirement.
The most notable difference between Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR is the size of the type. Form 1040-SR has a much larger font, as well as larger boxes for seniors to input their information and numbers when completing the document by hand. Informational pages of Form 1040-SR also have wider spacing for easier viewing.
Another important change that seniors likely will notice right away is the Standard Deduction section right near the top. This section contains a question related to taxpayer age and blindness, since millions of seniors suffer from age-related vision problems. The number of checkmarks input here affects the amount of your standard deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions using Schedule A. Form 1040-SR also includes a standard deduction table embedded within the document to help seniors easily identify the amount of their standard deduction.
Finally, Form 1040-SR removed income limitations found on previous versions of Form 1040. There are no limits on the amounts of ordinary income, dividends, capital gains, or other forms of taxable income.
Seniors over the age of 65 don’t have to use Form 1040-SR. However, it was designed specifically for that age demographic since it’s easier to read and fill out.
1. Statistics on Income Tax Returns, Form, Collections, eFile, https://www.efile.com/irs-income-tax-return-and-collection-form-statistics-data/
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