Don’t Pay to File the 1040-EZ

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Income TaxDid you know that millions of Americans pay a tax preparer to file their 1040EZ? It’s a single page with ten blanks! According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 20 million Americans pay someone to file their 1040EZ (courtesy of Red Tape Chronicles).

It’s pretty amazing right? There’s no reason why you should pay someone to file your 1040-EZ because it’s literally 12 lines – one of which is for refund information (where to send your refund).

Do you qualify for the 1040EZ?

You can use the 1040EZ if you

  • File as single or married filing jointly,
  • Have no dependents,
  • Are (both) under 65,
  • Are not legally blind during the last tax year,
  • Have interest income less than $1,500,
  • and have an income of less than $100,000.

When you look at the form, you can see that it really is designed for someone who gets all of their income from their job, with a little bank interest. If you look at the form, it’s not intimidating at all – it’s for the most vanilla of tax situations.

Deductions & Credits under 1040EZ

The main drawback of the 1040EZ is that the only credit you can take is the earned income tax credit. In fact, if you use the 1040EZ, you can’t itemize deductions or claim any adjustments whatsoever.

If it still makes sense for you to file the 1040-EZ, just open it up and take a look. If you read it line by line (there are only 12!), most of it is pretty self-explanatory. If there are any tricky parts, they usually reference a page number, that’s the page in the 1040 Instructions manual.

If you are still intimidated, take a look at these free tax filing resources. You may qualify for assistance with the form without having to pay a tax preparer. Companies like TurboTax and TaxAct also offer free Federal tax preparation if you qualify (their business model is to give you Federal prep for free and sell you on State prep, since they already have all your information entered, it’s not a bad deal if you want to save time).

Please don’t be intimidated by the IRS to the point that you are one of the 20 million who pay to have a 12-line form filled out.

(Photo: alancleaver)

{ 24 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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24 Responses to “Don’t Pay to File the 1040-EZ”

  1. I think you wanted to link to the 1040EZ instructions rather than the 1040 instructions?

    A lot of people don’t realize that there are instructions for EVERY form (or simply refuse to look at them). The instruction booklets are generally quite detailed.

    I really think that some people just go into IRS panic. You’re correct that the EZ form is actually very easy,

  2. zapeta says:

    I’ve used TurboTax’s free file for the last several years and if you qualify its a great option.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    best friend’s wife becoming a cpa ftw!

  4. Hannah says:

    I wouldn’t even recommend starting with any of the actual forms on the IRS website. Every tax company you can think of lets you file your US tax return for free (then they try to get you to pay to file your state tax return using the same information). You don’t even have to look at the form, you just answer questions without all the jargon, and the website fills the form in properly for you. It couldn’t be easier.

  5. javi says:

    I can not believe anyone would pay to file a 1040-EZ. I filed it out the first year I paid taxes. It was so easy and it didn’t take too long to complete. Nowadays I would just use one of the online tax preparers. They are free and you get your money faster.

  6. Darren L. says:

    Don’t forget about VITA! Volunteer Income Tax Assistant… for people with income under $49,000 they can get the tax return prepared by volunteers.,,id=107626,00.html for more information.

  7. That is great advice, especially for low income part timers.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  8. Kate says:

    Even if you don’t qualify to file the EZ form, you can usually file for free with taxact and other online softwares. What they get you to pay for is your state taxes, but you can always use the software to prepare and then file a written tax form.

  9. Shari says:

    You might also contact your local United Way, they tend to have a substantial list of organizations and programs specific to individual cities.

  10. eric says:

    i’m surprised ppl would pay to file this…

    • Chris says:

      These same people bought a bunch of new homes with zero down and baloon mortgages. It all comes back to education.

  11. Shirley says:

    I’ve used TaxACT software since 2000 and am very happy with it. Waiting for all the W2s and 1099s is the hardest part. 🙂

    Fed/State bundle is $17, State efile is $7.95.
    All your info from the previous year can be imported for comparison, all is automatically backed up to your choice of folder on your computer, and it offers to show returns for both short form and claiming deductions.

  12. Leigh Aragon says:


    I work for TaxACT. There is no qualification to use TaxACT Free Federal Edition – it is free for everyone at

    Thank you for posting TaxACT as a solution and for the positive comments from everyone else. The Ultimate bundle Shirley mentioned includes TaxACT Online Deluxe and State, for $17.95. There is no charge for E-file for Federal or State online. The Downloaded version ($19.95)includes one Federal e-file, and charges $7.95 for a State e-file.

    Thank you!

  13. cubiclegeoff says:

    TaxACT is a lot more expensive now, but still worth it (I think it is $17.95 for state while fed is free).

    I think people are just scared of taxes and the IRS, and why shouldn’t they be considering how complex our tax system is. But there are programs at local libraries and other non-profits that will help out, people just need to find one.

  14. cubiclegeoff says:

    It also couldn’t hurt to realize that the chances of getting audited (another fear) are really slim if you don’t have a complicated tax situation.

  15. Just wanted to clarify a couple of things about TaxACT (yes, they are my employer).

    Anyone can file a federal return for free with our Free Federal edition, there are no income or age restrictions. If you use the Free Edition, a state return is $14.95.

    TaxACT Deluxe is $9.95 and comes with access to expanded guidance and tax advice from JK Lasser.

    TaxACT Ultimate Bundle is $17.95 and includes federal & state preparation and e-filing.

    Just wanted to make sure everyone knew their options.

    Greg Hollingsworth

  16. govenar says:

    I think the 1040-EZ has other restrictions too, like if you have investment income from stocks (that requires a Schedule D), you can’t use 1040-EZ.

  17. Brian says:

    I think a lot of people pay for filing because they are a little bit scared of the IRS. If you read the news, or watch the news, whatever, the IRS is portrayed as a big scary entity that’s out to get you. I know that’s unrealistic, and I’m sure you and all of the commenters feel that way as well, but there are those that would rather pay and feel comfortable that their filing was completed correctly.

  18. There is nothing wrong with paying someone else for a 1040 EZ. It is going to be done right and you have access to someone who you can ask financial questions.

    I have never changed my own oil in my life, in spite of being told how easy it is to do this.

  19. Izalot says:

    I think most readers of this blog have filled out forms of a variety type before. Filling out a 1040EZ is about as complicated as opening a new credit application or a new bank account. As far as changing oil in your car…live life a little and give it a try!

  20. Debt Hater says:

    Wow! This was an eye opener. I can’t believe anyone would pay for this service! The only problem with this post is that the people who are reading it aren’t the people who would have paid to have someone file a 1040EZ. The people who are paying to have someone file their 1040EZ probably aren’t reading pf blogs (or any blogs) period.

  21. Danielle says:

    This article proves how well the education is preparing our youth for the work world. Everyone has to work, therefor everyone should be taught how to fill out their own basic tax return form.

  22. Becky B says:

    Another option that hasn’t been mentioned is the IRS ‘Free Fillable Forms’ (Google it for the link). You can file your 1040EZ for free with e-file included. It is all done on the IRS website so its safe and secure. If you’re doing more than a 1040EZ some people are reporting issues. I’m sure the IRS will iron it out.

  23. vic says:

    once i fill out my 1040 ez, where do i mail it?

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