The Internal Revenue Service requires most people who have income to file tax returns each year, but the forms you need to file depend on your personal financial situation. The federal government offers three main tax forms for filing returns: form 1040, 1040A and 1040 EZ. Form 1040A is a shorter version of the standard 1040 form that can potentially speed up the tax filing process for you.

1040A Requirements

The IRS provides detailed instructions for form 1040A in a digital file called 1040A Instruvtions. In general, you can only use form 1040A if your taxable income is less than $100,000, you do not itemize your deductions and you only had income in the form of wages, salaries, tips, interest, dividends, capital gains and certain types of retirement benefits. A full list of requirements is listed in page 12 of the instructions.

Basic Filing Requirements

In addition to the 1040A form requirements, the IRS sets some basic income rules that determine whether you have to file an income tax return. You are only required to file a return, as of 2012, if your annual income was over $9,750 as a single taxpayer or $19,500 as a married person filing a joint return. The limits increased to $10,000 and $20,000 in 2013. Basic filing requirements are listed on pages 7 through 9 of the 1040A instructions.

1040A Line Instructions

The majority of the instructions for form 1040A consist of line instructions that give you detailed information about how to fill in each part of the form. You should consult the line instructions as you fill out form 1040A to make sure that you enter the correct values into the boxes provided. Line instructions start on page 13 of the instruction booklet and continue to page 68.

Itemized Deductions

You can only use form 1040A if you use the standard tax deduction instead of claiming your itemized deductions. Itemized deductions include a wide range of common costs like mortgage interest, property taxes and certain business expenses. Even if you meet all the requirements to file form 1040A, you might save more money by filing form 1040 and itemizing your deductions. Page 10 of the 1040A instructions contains information the help you decide if you are better off using form 1040A or itemizing your deductions. Use of the 1040EZ form is restricted generally to those who have only wages, salaries, tips and certain other income, have less than $1,500 in interest income and claim no credits other than the earned income credit.