12 Facts About Your Tax Form 1040 (+ Infographics)

by | Jan 14, 2022 | Taxes, 1040

Color coded sections of tax form 1040

Many people think taxes are boring. I tend to disagree and so here is a party-breaking list of mind-numbing….or just semi-interesting facts about our not-so-beloved tax form 1040. Yay ( ^◡^)っ

$230 –the Average Tax Preparation Cost

That can start as low as free to an average cost of $140 for simple returns, up to over $440 for Form 1040s with Schedules C, E, or F.¹ This is the cost of filing with a tax preparer. The cost of DIY software can start from zero to over $200, plus extra if you want an expert review. Not exactly that much cheaper.

It is HARD!

Taxes are not just difficult for us average folks. Even Einstein once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

On the two pages of Form 1040, there are 14 references to other schedules and forms, and the taxpayer is asked another 14 times to refer to “instructions” for further information. Not an easy two-pager.

f1040 2021pg1 annotated Small
f1040 2021pg2 annotated Small

12 Hours – the Average Time to Complete Tax Form 1040

According to the IRS, for non-business taxpayers, the time is 8 hours, while taxpayers who file Schedule C, E, or F spend about 21 hours in total to gather, plan and complete their tax returns.¹

800 Other Forms & Schedules

It demonstrates how complex our tax system is when you realize that form 1040 is only one of 800 other IRS income tax forms and schedules.

Legally Binding Document

Tax form 1040 is a legal document that you make binding when you sign and date your taxes. 

“Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.”

Heading in 10pt Helvetica; Body in 8pt

You are not wrong when you think it is hard to read Form 1040. The font used on the standard 1040 is Helvetica size 8 pt, with 10 pt for headings.

Helvetica Font on 1040 Small 2
Helvetica Font on 1040SR Small 1
Mint color Small

The 1040-SR for seniors has a larger font of 11 pt for body and 12 pt for headings. Since 2012, the 1040 has a mint background (hex color #dbfffa).

Instructions are at the Bottom

Every IRS form and schedule has a clickable link and address to instructions at the very bottom. Look for: “Go to www.irs.gov/Form1040 for instructions and the latest information.

Instructions on 1040 Form Small

There are 8 Different Variations

As of 2021, there are 8 different variations of Form 1040:²

  • 1040  – standard form;
  • 1040  – SR for seniors;
  • 1040  – NR for nonresident aliens;
  • 1040  – SS for residents of US territories;
  • 1040  – PR is a Spanish version of 1040-SS;
  • 1040  – ES is used to pay estimated quarterly taxes;
  • 1040  – V is a short payment voucher to pay yearly tax, and
  • 1040  – X is a form to file an amendment.

If you are looking for the mention of Form 1040-EZ or 1040-A, these are no more.³ These forms have been retired starting with the tax year 2018.

f1040 1920 Page 1

Created in 1864, Reborn 1913

According to the IRS forms database, the oldest 1040 tax form dates to 1864.⁴ It was created after Abraham Lincoln levied the first income tax to help pay for the Civil War effort. The right to impose a Federal income tax was ratified on Feb 3, 1913, with the passing of the 16th Amendment. This is the time when a closer replica to our current 1040 was reborn.

To see the prior year 1040 forms, go to https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1040–XXXX.pdf and change the ‘XXXX’ for the year of the form you would like to see. If you want to see a version that seems particularly jolly, check out the 1920 copy. ⤜(⚆ᗜ⚆)⤏

Public Tax Returns

Tax returns are protected by law from unauthorized disclosure. However, if you want to see tax returns that have been released to the public, look no further than the tax returns of presidential candidates⁵ going back to Franklin Roosevelt and ending with the current president Joe Biden.

Some tax returns look like average upper-middle-class Americans, such as Bernie Sanders. On the other hand, there are also tax returns of very wealthy presidential candidates such as those of Hillary Clinton’s or Jeb Bush’s.

There is also a single tax return for former President Trump dating back to 2005. Happy peeking.

PEF from 1040 Small 1

$1.5 Billion

Since 1976, taxpayers have allocated over $1.5 billion to the Presidential Election Fund (PEF) by checking the PEF checkbox on their tax returns. As of Oct 2021, the fund had over $400 million.

In 1976, roughly 28% of taxpayers selected to have funds moved to PEF, while only 4% did so on the 2020 tax returns. Taxpayers don’t seem to have faith in it anymore.

AlCapone Found Guilty Chicago Tribune

Report Your Illegal Activities

I hope nobody is doing anything illegal here ヽ(O_O )ノ, but if you are, per IRS law, you are required to report all your income, including income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, bribes, kickbacks, etc.”

If you want to know where to list it, it needs to be reported under “other income” on Sch 1 of 1040. (☉.☉)

In all seriousness, this is what we call: Follow the money. Considering the number of criminals found guilty and sent to jail not for the criminal activity that they engaged in but rather tax evasion.⁶

  1. Al Capone in 1931
  2. Salvatore Demeo in 2018
  3. Irving Wexler in 1933
  4. John Gotti in 1992

Share this infographic with your friends who (you never know) may be just AS interested as you and me. (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ

Infographics about Tax Form 1040

Additional Sources

1. Pg 108 of 1040 Instructions: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf

2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/1/1040.asp

3. Form 1040-EZ was used for the most straightforward tax returns, primarily for taxpayers with W-2 income less than $100,000 without dependents. Form 1040-A was used by taxpayers who earned less than $100,000 and didn’t itemize their taxes.

4. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1040–1864.pdf

5. https://www.taxnotes.com/presidential-tax-returns

6. https://www.findlaw.com/legalblogs/criminal-defense/why-organized-crime-bosses-get-arrested-for-tax-evasion/

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