Federal Help

What's New For 2020

For information about any additional change to the 2020 tax law or any other developemnts affecting Form 1040 or 1040-SR or the instructions, go to IRS.gov/Form1040.

Economic impact payment. Any eco-nomic impact payment you received is not taxable for federal income tax purposes but reduces your recovery rebate credit.

Recovery rebate credit. This credit is figured like last year's economic impact payment, except the amounts are based on tax year 2020, instead of tax year 2019 (or tax year 2018 if tax year 2019 information was not available). The maximum credit is $1,200 ($2,400 if married filing jointly) plus $500 for each qualifying child. See the instructions for line 30 at IRS.gov/Form1040.

Form 1040-NR revision. Form 1040-NR has been revised to more closely follow the format of Forms 1040 and 1040-SR. Beginning in 2020, Form 1040-NR will use Schedules 1, 2, and 3.

Estimated tax payments now reported on line 26. In 2019, estimated tax payments and any amount applied from your previous year’s return were reported on Schedule 3, line 8. In 2020, these payments will be reported on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, line 26.

Charitable contributions. If you don't itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you may qualify to take a deduction for charitable contributions of up to $300. See the instructions for line 10b at IRS.gov/Form1040.

Standard deduction amount increased. For 2020, the standard deduction amount has been increased for all filers. The amounts are:

  • Single or Married filing separately - $ 12,400.
  • Married filing jointly or Qualifying widow(er) - $24,800.
  • Head of household - $18,650.

Virtual currency. If, in 2020, you engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency, you will need to answer the question on page 1 of Form 1040 or 1040-SR. See Virtual Currency, in the instructions for Form 1040. In 2019, this question was on Schedule 1.

Deductible IRA contributions. You no longer need to be younger than age 70 1/2 to take a deduction for your contributions to an IRA. See the instructions for Schedule 1, line 19.

Coronavirus tax relief for certain individuals. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act permits certain individuals who file Schedule SE or Schedule H to defer the payment of 50% of the social security tax imposed for the period beginning on March 27, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020. For more information, see the instructions for Schedule SE or Schedule H. For information on reporting the deferral, see the instructions for Schedule 3, line 12e.

Credits for sick and family leave for certain self-employed individuals. The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) helps self-employed individuals affected by coronavirus by providing paid sick leave and paid family leave credits equivalent to those that employers are required to provide their employees for qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid during the period beginning April 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020. For more information, see the instructions for Form 7202 and Schedule 3, line 12b.

Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Starting last summer, taxpayers were able to file their Form 1040-X electronically using available tax software products. The electronic Form 1040-X will be implemented in phases. During the first phase, only tax year 2019 Forms 1040 and 1040-SR returns can be amended electronically. Taxpayers will still have the option to submit a paper version of the Form 1040-X and should follow the instructions for preparing and submitting the paper form.

Schedule LEP (Form 1040). Sched-ule LEP is a new form that allows taxpayers to state a preference to receive written communications from the IRS in a language other than English. For more information, including what languages are available and how to file, see Schedule LEP.

 

Filing Requirements

Do You Have To File?

Use Chart A, B, or C to see if you must file a return. U.S. citizens who lived in or had income from a U.S. possession should see Pub. 570. Residents of Puerto Rico can use Tax Topic 901 at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc901.html to see if they must file.

TIP: Even if you do not otherwise have to file a return, you should file one to get a refund of any federal income tax withheld. You also should file if you are eligible for any of the following credits.

  • Earned income credit.
  • Additional child tax credit.
  • American opportunity credit.
  • Credit for federal tax on fuels.
  • Premium tax credit.
  • Health coverage tax credit.
  • Recovery rebate credit.
  • Credits for sick and family leave.

See Pub. 501 for details. Also see Pub. 501 if you do not have to file but received a Form 1099-B (or substitute statement).

Requirement to reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you, your spouse with whom you are filing a joint return, or a dependent was enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace for 2020 and advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for this coverage, you must file a 2020 return and attach Form 8962. You (or whoever enrolled you) should have received Form 1095-A from the Marketplace with information about your coverage and any advance payments.

You must attach Form 8962 even if someone else enrolled you, your spouse, or your dependent. If you are a dependent who is claimed on someone else's 2020 return, you do not have to attach Form 8962.

Exception for certain children under age 19 or full-time students. If certain conditions apply, you can elect to include on your return the income of a child who was under age 19 at the end of 2020 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2020. To do so, use Form 8814. If you make this election, your child doesn't have to file a return. For details, use Tax Topic 553 at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc553.html or see Form 8814 at IRS.gov.

A child born on January 1, 1997, is considered to be age 24 at the end of 2020. Do not use Form 8814 for such a child.

Resident aliens. These rules also apply if you were a resident alien. Also, you may qualify for certain tax treaty benefits. See Pub. 519 for details.

Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens. These rules also apply if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and both of the following apply.

  • You were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2020.

  • You elected to be taxed as a resident alien.

See Pub. 519 for details.

CAUTION. Specific rules apply to determine if you are a resident alien, nonresident alien, or dual-status alien. Most nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens have different filing requirements and may have to file Form 1040-NR. Pub. 519 discusses these requirements and other information to help aliens comply with U.S. tax law

 

When and Where Should You File?

File Form 1040 or 1040-SR by April 15, 2021. If you file after this date, you may have to pay interest and penalties. See Interest and Penalties, in the Instructions for Form 1040 at IRS.gov.

If you were serving in, or in support of, the U.S. Armed Forces in a designated combat zone or contingency operation, you may be able to file later. See Pub. 3 for details.

If you e-file your return, there is no need to mail it. However, if you choose to mail it, filing instructions and addresses are at the end of the instructions for Form 1040 at IRS.gov.

The chart at the end of the instructions for Form 1040 at IRS.gov provides the current address for mailing your return. Use these addresses for Forms 1040 or 1040-SR filed in 2021. The address for returns filed after 2021 may be different. See IRS.gov/Form1040 for any updates.

 

What if You Can't File on Time?
You can get an automatic 6-month extension if, no later than the date your return is due, you file Form 4868. For details, see Form 4868. Instead of filing Form 4868, you can apply for an automatic extension by making an electronic payment by the due date of your return.

CAUTION. An automatic 6-month extension to file doesn't extend the time to pay your tax. If you don’t pay your tax by the original due date of your return, you will owe interest on the unpaid tax and may owe penalties. See Form 4868.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you may qualify for an automatic extension of time to file without filing Form 4868. You qualify if, on the due date of your return, you meet one of the following conditions.

  • You live outside the United States and Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

  • You are in military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

This extension gives you an extra 2 months to file and pay the tax, but interest will be charged from the original due date of the return on any unpaid tax. You must include a statement showing that you meet the requirements. If you are still unable to file your return by the end of the 2-month period, you can get an additional 4 months if, no later than June 15, 2021, you file Form 4868. This 4-month extension of time to file doesn't extend the time to pay your tax. See Form 4868.

Private Delivery Services
If you choose to mail your return, you can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the "timely mailing treated as timely filing/ paying" rule for tax returns and payments. These private delivery services include only the following.

  • UPS Next Day Air Early A.M., UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.

  • FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2 Day, FedEx International Next Flight Out, FedEx International Priority, FedEx International First, and FedEx International Economy.
  • DHL Express 9:00, DHL Express 10:30, DHL Express 12:00, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Import Express 10:30, DHL Import Express 12:00, and DHL Import Express Worldwide.

 

To check for any updates to the list of designated private delivery services, go to IRS.gov/PDS. For the IRS mailing address to use if you’re using a private delivery service, go to IRS.gov/ PDSStreetAddresses.

The private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of the mailing date.

 

Chart A - For Most People

IF your filing status is... AND at the end of 2020
you were*...
THEN file a return if your gross income** was at least...
Single
under 65
65 or older
$12,400
14,050
Married filing jointly***
under 65 (both spouses)
65 or older (one spouse)
65 or older (both spouses)
$24,800
26,100
27,400
Married filing separately any age $5
Head of household under 65
65 or older
$18,650
20,300
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child under 65
65 or older
$24,800
26,100

*If you were born on January 1, 1956, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2020. (If your spouse died in 2020 or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2020, see Pub. 501.)

**Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Don’t include any social security benefits unless (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2020, or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the instructions for lines 6a and 6b to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income. Gross income includes gains, but not losses, reported on Form 8949 or Schedule D. Gross income from a business means, for example, the amount on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9. But, in figuring gross income, don’t reduce your income by any losses, including any loss on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9.

***If you didn't live with your spouse at the end of 2020 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $5, you must file a return regardless of your age.

 

Chart B - For Children and Other Dependents (See Who Qualifies as Your Dependent, later.)

If your parent (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this chart to see if you must file a return.

In this chart, unearned income includes taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. It also includes unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, and distributions of unearned income from a trust. Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and taxable scholarship and fellowship grants. Gross income is the total of your unearned and earned income.

Single dependents. Were you either age 65 or older or blind?

No. Were you either age 65 or older or blind?

  • Your unearned income was over $1,100.
  • Your earned income was over $12,400.
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of -
    • $1,100, or
    • Your earned income (up to $12,050) plus $350.

Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

  • Your unearned income was over $2,750 ($4,400 if 65 or older and blind).
  • Your earned income was over $14,050 ($15,700 if 65 or older and blind).
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of -
    • $2,750 ($4,400 if 65 or older and blind), or
    • Your earned income (up to $12,050) plus $2,000 ($3,650 if 65 or older and blind).

Married dependents. Were you either age 65 or older or blind?

No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

  • Your unearned income was over $1,100.
  • Your earned income was over $12,400.
  • Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of -
    • $1,100, or
    • Your earned income (up to $12,050) plus $350.

Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

  • Your unearned income was over $2,400 ($3,700 if 65 or older and blind).
  • Your earned income was over $13,700 ($15,000 if 65 or older and blind).
  • Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of -
    • $2,400 ($3,700 if 65 or older and blind), or
    • Your earned income (up to $12,050) plus $1,650 ($2,950 if 65 or older and blind).

 

Chart C - Other Situations When You Must File
You must file a return if any of the six conditions below apply for 2020.

  1. You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.
    1. Alternative minimum tax.

    2. Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.

    3. Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Schedule H by itself.

    4. Social security and Medicare tax on tips you didn't report to your employer or on wages you received from an employer who didn't withhold these taxes.

    5. Write-in taxes, including uncollected social security and Medicare or RRTA tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts. See the instructions for Schedule 2, line 8.

    6. Recapture taxes. See the instructions for line 16 and Schedule 2, lines 7b and 8.


  2. You (or your spouse, if filing jointly) received health savings account, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA distributions.

  3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.

  4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.

  5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1095-A showing the amount of the advance payments.

  6. Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1099-H showing the amount of the advance payments.

  7. You are required to include amounts in income under section 965 or you have a net tax liability under section 965 that you are paying in installments under section 965(h) or deferred by making an election under section 965(i).