Chapter 2: Forms and filing
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The who, what, when and how much of paying income tax is explained here.
Not everyone has to file income taxes — but most of us do. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to determine your filing status, which form you should use, how much of your income is taxable and at what rate. April 15 is the day by which most people must file, but people who are living abroad or who are working in a battle zone — such as soldiers, journalists or aid workers — get some more time.
Filing your return
Even though taxes were withheld from you paycheck, you still have to file a return to reconcile with Uncle Sam.
Do I have to file?
Your filing status, age and income determine if you have to file. You’ll know the answer after reading this section.
Finding your filing status
An easy-to-understand chart details who can file in each status category.
Choosing the correct form
Should you use 1040EZ, 1040 or 1040A? We decipher the standard tax forms for you.
Determining taxable income
We’ll show you how to add up your gross income and figure out what is your taxable income. Plus, a list of common taxable and non-taxable items.
Tax rates, or just how much do I owe?
The six tax rates and how your effective tax rate is calculated.
When to file
Most of us have to file our taxes by April 15 each year — unless you ask for an extension. See who else gets more time.
Special filing circumstances
If you live abroad or are in a battle region — such as Red Cross workers, soldiers or journalists — you can file later.