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You Can’t Get Rich if You Use the 1040EZ

Just a quick note to my non-US readers:  This post contains zero useful information for you.

It’s tax time everybody.  Paperwork, obscure forms, and check stubs are so interesting, right?  You may be tempted to use the EZ forms (easy, right?).  Well, you shouldn’t.  You’ll owe less or get more back on your return if you spend an extra hour hunting down obscure tax credits and deductions.

The easy route

I was more than willing to use the EZ forms, but thankfully my Dad called me up and told me to use the standard forms.  Of course, by this time I’d already filled out both the Federal and State 1040EZ forms, but that only took me half an hour so no huge loss.  That’s the big draw of the EZ forms:  They take around 10 minutes to complete.  There’s also hardly any reading required (that seems to be getting more and more popular these days, kinda sad). 

With my piddly income, and using the state and federal EZ forms, my tax return would have been around $250.  Not too bad, but Dad said that I could get more.  So, I did some research and started filling out the standard 1040.

The real ones

The 1040 is complicated, and there are subforms that you have to fill out and attach in addition to the main form.  I should probably mention that this is the first time I’ve filled out a 1040 by myself, and that I can see why most people stick with the 1040EZ.  Anyway, I did some research and came up with a few credits and deductions that I could apply to myself.  When I was done with both forms, my return came out to around $700.  That’s a big improvement over $250.

Just in case I have any college students as readers, you should definitely use the standard federal 1040 form, as opposed to the 1040EZ.  If you’re paying your own way (I’m not sure if you can claim this if you’re not independent), you can deduct up to $4,000 off of your taxable income as long as you have the tuition fees to match that.  That makes a huge difference when you have a low income.

For the rest of you, search around online and see if there’s anything else you can deduct.  I know cheritable contributions are deductable, but I didn’t do much in the way of charity this last year so I’m not sure how much that’s worth.

The bottom line

When I was a senior in high school, my government teacher told us that everybody should use the EZ forms, because claiming deductions and credits was the same as stealing from the government.  That man was an idiot.  It’s not stealing, because it’s my money to begin with.

Take the time to understand your taxes before you do them.  It could save you a lot of money.

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One Response to “You Can’t Get Rich if You Use the 1040EZ”

  1. Sabrina Says:

    His wife must have worked for the IRS because no other person would be fool enough to advocate that kind of absurdity. I’ve hit that income bracket where you screwed all around. But next year I’ll have a business to claim. So things may be different. We shall see, taxes are torture.

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