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Filing your taxes

Preparing 1040 tax return in 2024

Mark Steber

Chief Tax Information Officer

Published on: August 07, 2023

It’s always good to think about what may be needed when you file your taxes next year. Continue reading to find out about the IRS Form 1040, what credits and deductions you may want to consider, what mistakes to avoid when filing your taxes, and more.

The IRS Form 1040 is the standard federal tax income form used to report your income and tax deductions, calculate your taxes, and your refund or balance due for the year. There are two different types: Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR.

Form 1040-SR is specifically designed for people 65 and over. Both forms calculate your taxable income, how much you should pay in taxes, and determine whether you are due a tax refund or owe the IRS.

There are three schedules, or additional documents, that may need to be included with the Form 1040, depending on your tax situation:

  • Schedule 1 is necessary if you have had any additional income or adjustments to your income. This would include business income, rental income, and student loan interest, just to name a few.
  • Schedule 2 needs to be filed if you owe any added taxes, such as, self-employment tax, household employment tax, or the alternative minimum tax.
  • Schedule 3 is necessary when you have more tax credits and payments. For example, if you want to claim a credit for child and/or dependent care, education credits, saver’s credit, withholding, and more, you’ll have to use the Schedule 3. You could also report excess Social Security tax withheld (which typically affects people with more than one job), net premium tax credits, and more.

Finally, there are other schedules and forms you may need to include to file your return accurately, for example:

  • Schedule A – Itemized Deductions
  • Schedule C – Self-Employment Income
  • Schedule SE – Self-Employment Taxes 
  • Form 2441 – Child and Dependent Care Credit
  • Schedule 8812 – Child Tax Credits

Know your filing status

The IRS has five filing status options for taxpayers required to file income taxes. You can file as single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying surviving spouse. The standard deduction depends on your filing status.

A Tax Pro can help you with choosing the right filing status. Choosing the correct status can save you big dollars at tax time but choosing the wrong one can cost you.

Below are the standard deductions for 2023

Filing status

2023 standard deduction



Married filing jointly/ Qualifying surviving spouse


Married filing separately


Head of household


Maximizing deductions

What’s the difference between the standard deduction and itemized deductions? The standard deduction is a specific dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you’re taxed. The standard deduction amount depends on your filing status and whether you’re 65 or older, are blind, and whether another taxpayer can claim you as a dependent.

On the other hand, itemized deductions are certain expenses the IRS allows you to deduct from your income to figure out your true taxable income. The more you can itemize, the lower your taxes for the year will be. You could even get a bigger refund.

There are specific circumstances and limits when itemizing deductions. Possible itemized deductions include medical expenses, certain taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, casualty loss in a federally declared disaster area, as well as other miscellaneous deductions.

If you are self-employed, you can claim your self-employment expenses, like your home office, which will reduce your taxable income.

Since every taxpayer’s situation is different, a Tax Pro can help you decide whether to itemize or take the standard deduction. But the general rule is easy—you get to pick the bigger deduction of the two: Either the standard deduction that all taxpayers are entitled to, or itemized deductions, if larger.

Exploring tax credits

There are various tax credits available to you. We receive a lot of questions every year about child tax credits. The best way to calculate the child tax credit is with Tax Pro, but the credit is largely based on your income and number of dependents you have. You will need to complete Schedule 8812 (Credits for Qualifying Children and Other Dependents). The credit phases out—meaning you cannot claim it—for single taxpayers and heads of household whose income is $200,000 ($400,000 if filing jointly) or more in the tax year.

The child tax credit has three distinct pieces.

  • The Child Tax Credit is a minimum of $400 and up to $1,600 per child of nonrefundable credit.
  • The Additional Child Tax Credit is the unused Child Tax Credit, up to $1,600 per child. This credit is refundable, meaning any remaining credit after all taxes are covered ($0 remaining) is part of the taxpayer’s refund.
  • Finally, the Credit for Other Dependents is a $500 per dependent nonrefundable credit.

Dependent care credits

You may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit if you paid expenses for the care of a qualifying individual to enable you to work, actively interview, or look for work.

Generally, you may not take this credit if your filing status is married filing separately. The amount of the credit is a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage is between 35% and 20%, depending on your adjusted gross income.

The total expenses that you may use to calculate the credit may not be more than $3,000 for one qualifying individual, or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals.

This is a nonrefundable credit, which means you can use it to reduce your income taxes to $0 but if there is any unused credit left, it can’t be added to your refund.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Another important credit is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax benefit primarily designed to help low- to moderate-income individuals and families who earned under a certain threshold or are in a certain tax bracket.

This credit is “refundable,” which means that when the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, you could get the rest of it as part of your tax refund. The amount of the credit varies by income, family size, and filing status.

There are many other credits to explore. A Tax Pro can work with you on your specific situation to see what you may qualify for.  

Avoiding common tax filing mistakes

While tax laws are complicated, it turns out that the most common tax return errors are easy to avoid. Many mistakes can be avoided by filing electronically and working with a Tax Pro. According to the IRS, the most widespread errors are:

  • Filing too early. While you should file as soon as possible, you should also wait until you have all your pertinent documents. If you file before you receive all the proper tax reporting documents, you risk making a mistake that may lead to a processing delay.
  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers (SSN). Each SSN on a tax return should appear exactly as printed on your Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Likewise, a name listed on a tax return should exactly match the name on that person's Social Security card.
  • Entering information inaccurately. Wages, dividends, bank interest, and other income received and reported on an information return should be entered carefully.
  • Incorrect filing status. Some taxpayers choose the wrong filing status. Always work with your Tax Pro on the best choice for your status, especially if more than one filing status applies.
  • Math mistakes. Math errors are some of the most common mistakes. They range from simple addition and subtraction to more complex calculations. Good tax software and a Tax Pro can help ensure that there aren’t math errors on your tax return.
  • Figuring out credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring out things like their EITC, Child and Dependent Care Credit, Child Tax Credit, and more. A Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro can help with determining if you’re eligible for certain credits and deductions.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. If you’re expecting a refund, it’s fastest and less error-prone to select direct deposit. Make sure that you’re using the right routing and account numbers on your tax return. Always double check before hitting send to ensure that the money hits your account as soon as possible.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn't valid. In most cases, if you’re married filing jointly, both spouses must sign the return. You can avoid this error by working with a Tax Pro who can help you file your return electronically and digitally sign it before sending it to the IRS.

Using income tax calculator  

Our Jackson Hewitt 1040 Income Tax Calculator offers only an estimate of what you could be getting. While this can help you get an idea of what your return may look like, a local Tax Pro can make sure that you’re filing your return as accurately as possible. Having an expert Tax Pro that is on your side is crucial to getting you the biggest tax refund for you and your family.

Consider assistance from a tax professional

A Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro can help walk you through all the ins and outs of filing your taxes accurately and on time. It is crucial to pay attention to tax deadlines to avoid late fees and trouble with the IRS. Tax Day is usually April 15, but if it happens to fall on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is moved to the next business day. For this year, the deadline was April 18, 2023, and for filing next year’s taxes it will be April 15, 2024.

It is important to note that if you receive all your tax documentation early, you may file your tax return as early as January, so there is no real need to wait until the deadline to file. In fact, it’s beneficial to file early to get the most convenient appointment for you and get your refund sooner, if you’re due one.

Find a Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro near you. We’re always here to answer any questions you may have this year—and for many years to come.

About the Author

Mark Steber is Senior Vice President and Chief Tax Information Officer for Jackson Hewitt. With over 30 years of experience, he oversees tax service delivery, quality assurance and tax law adherence. Mark is Jackson Hewitt’s national spokesperson and liaison to the Internal Revenue Service and other government authorities. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), holds registrations in Alabama and Georgia, and is an expert on consumer income taxes including electronic tax and tax data protection.

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