In 2019 the IRS unveiled the final version of a new, simplified income tax form that people 65 and older may use to file for the 2019 tax year and moving forward.
Drafted to be easier for aging eyes to read, the two-page Form 1040-SR uses a bigger font than the standard Form 1040 and includes a prominently displayed chart for calculating taxpayers’ standard deduction, IRS spokesperson Eric L. Smith says.
To use the new form, filers, including both spouses, must be at least age 65 though they don't have to be retired. They also must use the standard deduction rather than itemize.
"A lot of our senior clients, because of charitable giving and state and local income taxes, qualify to itemize, so this form is a no-go for them,” says Jay Porter, an associate accountant with Porter & Associates in Huntington, West Virginia.
Lines for various sources of retirement income such as Social Security benefits, IRA distributions, pensions and annuities are displayed on the first page of the form.
Tax-preparation software will be able to generate a 1040-SR, but the new form will provide the most significant benefit to some of the fewer than 10% of taxpayers who still fill out and file their returns on paper, Smith says.
Form 1040-SR may feel more comfortable to some seniors and will make it easier for them to calculate the standard deduction, says Porter, who is a member of the American Institute of CPAs. However, people who file electronically or use a tax preparer won't benefit as much from the redesign.
Older people who are small business owners still will need to use the standard form, including Schedule C, to show profits and losses. Someone with investment income will need to use the standard form as well, says Mike Windle, a retirement income certified professional and partner at C. Curtis Financial Group in Plymouth, Michigan.
The IRS spokesman doesn't have current data on how many older Americans itemize their deductions. Yet in the population overall, the IRS has been seeing a significant decrease in those who itemize since Congress changed the tax code in 2017 to increase the size of the standard deduction and cap the amount of state and local taxes that itemizers can deduct.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 24, 2019. It has been updated to announce the final 1040-SR form has been released.
---------- Written by Patrick Kiger, AARP,
AARP was founded in 1958 and has over 38 million members. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for people over the age of 50. AARP is well-known for its advocacy efforts, providing its members with important information, products and services that enhance quality of life as they age. They also promote community service and keep members and the public informed on issues relating to the over 50 age group.