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IRS Releases Draft Form of New 1040 Tailored for Seniors

Easier-to-read form highlights retirement income streams and other tax benefits for citizens 65 and older.

A new Form 1040 tailored to taxpayers 65 and older is making its debut today. In mid July, the IRS released a draft form of the inaugural version of the 1040-SR, “U.S. Tax Return for Seniors.”

The new form was created by the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, which among its provisions called for the development of a tax return that would be easy for seniors to use and highlighted retirement income streams and other tax benefits for seniors. Those age 65 and older will be able to use this form to file their 2019 tax returns, and the IRS presented an overview of the new form at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in National Harbor, Md., earlier this week.

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Using the new form isn’t mandatory, but seniors can choose to use it if they want to. The form is based off the regular 1040, and the IRS says it uses all the same schedules, instructions and attachments. Older taxpayers who use tax software to file are unlikely to even notice.

But for taxpayers who still file by paper, the new form will be modified for aging eyes. The font is bigger to make the text easier to read. The shading in boxes on the regular 1040 has been removed to improve the contrast and increase legibility.

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A highlighted feature of the new form is the addition of a standard deduction chart, said Darren Hamilton, an official in the agency’s forms and publications division who presented information about the new form. The form lists the standard deduction amounts, including the extra standard deduction amount that taxpayers age 65 and older qualify for “so seniors don’t have to hunt for it,” said Hamilton at the Maryland tax forum. The chart makes it simpler for seniors to take advantage of the full standard deduction for which they are eligible, particularly for those who may not even be aware of the extra amount for which they qualify.

The form has lines for specific retirement income streams, such as Social Security benefits, IRA distributions, and pensions and annuities. “AARP supported the development of the simpler 1040 SR tax form since most seniors could not use the 1040 EZ due to their different sources of income,” says David Certner, AARP legislative counsel.

But the IRS says you don’t have to be retired to use the form. The agency says the form is appropriate for older workers to use, too.

You can take a look at the draft form of the 1040-SR at IRS.gov/DraftForms. Of course, the draft form is subject to change before it is finalized later this year. Industry players, such as certified public accountants and enrolled tax agents, will get a chance to comment on it and suggest improvements. You can submit comments, too, no later than August 15 to wi.1040.comments@irs.gov.

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