Understanding Income Taxes

by ptvan.

Why is it so hard to understand my Form 1040?

It’s a pretty daunting task to read your 1040 and understand what you’re looking at. When you break it down, it’s really not too bad.


Section 1 of the infographic indicates where you find the Income you earned through the year. This includes income such as W-2 wages, Passthrough activity, Social Security, etc.

Deductions For Adjusted Gross Income

Section 2 indicates deductions you can take directly against Income that reduce the amount that determines your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). It includes such deductions as Self-Employment Taxes paid, Student Loan Interest, etc.

Deductions From Adjusted Gross Income

Section 3 indicates deductions taken after AGI is calculated. This includes the exemptions you get for the standard deduction or itemized deductions (those deductions calculated on Schedule A).


Section 4 indicates exemptions to which you can deduct. This includes claiming your spouse and/or children to which are dependent to you.

Income Tax

Section 5 is where your Income Tax is calculated. Your Taxes are calculated by using the “Taxable Income” figure as a base for its calculation.


Section 6 shows what credits you have taken. This is different than a Deduction because Credits are taken dollar for dollar against your taxes. Credits are always the most advantageous way to reduce taxes, if you’re eligible for any.

Other Taxes

Section 7 is where any additional taxes are levied. This includes additional taxes such as Household employee taxes and Self-Employment Taxes.