Form 1040

A Step-by-Step Guide to Completing Form 1040 for First-Time Filers

First-time tax filers sometimes find the process difficult, especially when they encounter the complex corridor of laws and regulations that is the US tax code. It is simple to feel lost or confused when filling out the required documentation because the procedure might be stressful. But do not worry; with a little preparation and assistance, you can successfully file your tax return and move on with your life.

Form 1040 is one of the most important forms you’ll need to complete if you’re a first-time tax filer. Your income, deductions, and tax liability are all reported to the IRS using this form as the main reporting tool. Form 1040 is actually designed to be simple and easy to understand, despite the fact that it could initially look frightening.

We’ll lead you through the procedure of completing Form 1040 for the first time in this step-by-step manual. We’ll provide you all the information you need to confidently submit your taxes, from gathering your documentation to computing your deductions and completing the form itself. Take a big breath, get a cup of coffee, and let’s begin!

Step 1: Assemble all of your documentation.

Before you start completing your Form 1040, gather all the required documents. This includes your W-2 form, any 1099 forms you may have received, and any other records related to your earnings or deductions. Check these documents thoroughly to ensure 100% accuracy.

Step 2: Determine your filing status

The end of the tax year, December 31, is used to determine your filing status. There are five potential filing statuses. Choose the appropriate file status because it will affect your tax rate and deductions.

Step 3: Calculate your gross income

Your total income for the tax year, before any deductions or exemptions, is your gross income. This includes any additional revenue you got, such as tips, wages, and salaries. If you’re unsure of what counts as income, check out the IRS website or speak with an expert tax service.

Step 4: Calculate your adjusted gross income

Your gross income without any allowable deductions or exemptions equals your adjusted gross income (AGI). Tax deductions may be claimed for costs including student loan interest, college tuition, and charity contributions. A personal exemption is one that applies to you and any dependents.

Step 5: Calculate your taxable income

The amount of money from which you must pay taxes is your taxable income. Add up all of your deductions and exemptions, then subtract that amount from your AGI to get your taxable income. Your taxable income is used to calculate your tax obligation.

Step 6: Calculate your tax liability

To calculate your tax liability, you must use the tax tables the IRS provides. When computing your taxes, your filing status and taxable income are taken into consideration. To ensure accuracy, be careful to pick the right table for your particular situation.

Step 7: Determine your tax credits and payments

Tax payments and credits can lower your tax obligation or possibly lead to a refund. Any taxes you’ve previously paid throughout the year through payroll deductions or anticipated tax payments may be included in your payments.

Step 8: Complete the tax return

Once you have all the required data, you may begin completing Form 1040. To avoid mistakes or inaccuracies, double-check all the information you enter.

Filling out Form 1040

Now that you have gathered all the necessary documents and calculated your income and deductions, it’s time to fill out Form 1040. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Personal Information

Start by filling out the form’s top section with your personal data, which should include your name, address, and Social Security number.

Filing Status

Choose your filing status next based on your marital status and the number of dependents you have. Input the number of exemptions you are requesting and mark the box according to your filing status.


Fill in the appropriate fields on the form with information about your income. If you have a W-2 form, enter your wage and salary income on Line 1. If you have any other income, such as interest or dividends, enter it on the appropriate line.

Adjustments to Income

Enter any income adjustments, like student loan interest or IRA contributions, on Lines 2 through 8.

Deductions and Exemptions

If you plan to itemize your deductions, use Schedule A to list your deductions. Otherwise, use the standard deduction listed on Line 9. You can also claim exemptions for yourself and any dependents on Lines 10-12.

Taxable Income

Subtract your exemptions and deductions from your adjusted gross income (Line 11) to get your taxable income.

Taxes and Credits

To calculate your tax liability, use the IRS’s provided tax tables. Then, enter any tax credits you are eligible for on Lines 13 through 23.


Enter any payments you have already made towards your taxes, such as estimated tax payments or withholding from your paycheck. Then, subtract your payments from your tax liability to determine if you owe additional taxes or are due a refund.

Sign and File

Once you have completed Form 1040, sign and date it at the bottom. If you owe taxes, make sure to include payment with your tax return. Then, either file your tax return electronically or mail it to the appropriate IRS address.


Although submitting your taxes can seem like a difficult chore, with the appropriate support, it can be done quickly and correctly. First-time filers can prevent common mistakes and make sure their tax return is submitted correctly by carefully following these step-by-step directions for filling out Form 1040.