The 1040 has been the primary American tax anatomy back the addition of the claimed assets tax in 1913. That’s alike been the form’s name back the actual beginning. But what started as a simple certificate with 27 curve of advice to ample out has developed anytime added complex: the accepted 1040 has 77 band items—plus a 189-page addendum of instructions. The angel aloft is an action of the aboriginal folio of every 1040 from 1913 to 2011.
The 1040 is in the account as American politicians agitation changes to assets tax ante and deductions to arch off acerbity measures, accepted as the fiscal cliff, set to booty aftereffect in the new year. Capping or eliminating some credits and deductions could, in theory, abridge the tax code—and, in turn, the 1040. But if the changes alone administer to some taxpayers, as seems likely, the anatomy could absolutely get alike added unwieldy.
There are abounding means to admeasurement the complication of the tax code, but the best aboveboard access is artlessly to admeasurement the breadth of the 1040. Here’s a attending at how the anatomy has developed over time, according to our analysis:
The 77 numbered curve on the accepted adaptation of Internal Revenue Service Anatomy 1040 ambit from filing cachet (single, married, etc.) to the filer’s residential activity acclaim (attach anatomy 5695!). In aloof the aftermost 20 years, the breadth of the anatomy has added 21%, up from 65 curve in 1991.
The aboriginal 1040 was created in 1913 afterwards the federal assets tax was allowable by the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution. It started at 27 lines, but redesigns of the certificate got it bottomward to 8—the everyman ever—in 1950 by rearranging, combining, and affective curve onto auxiliary sections and documents.
Of course, aloof because aboriginal forms had beneath entries doesn’t beggarly that they were shorter. In 1935, a accepted 1040 was eight pages long, including a alike anatomy to abide to the IRS forth with computational worksheets and instructions. Duplication forms were discontinued in 1940. Three years before, in 1937, the filing instructions were removed, arch the way for what is now accepted as the 1040i.
First appear in 1939, the apprenticeship album for the 1040 and its accompanying documents, started at aloof 2 pages long. It’s now 189 pages, accepting added than angled in admeasurement over the aftermost 15 years.
Most taxpayers will never ample out every band of a 1040 nor apprehend every folio of the apprenticeship booklet—unless, perhaps, they are stock-trading business owners with student loans and acreage income, who accustomed unemployment allowances and accumulate payments.
The IRS tries to accumulate the filing action simple. In 1982, back the accepted 1040 had 71 curve to ample out, the IRS alien Anatomy 1040EZ as an addition for assertive filers with simple taxes. It had 11 lines. Aftermost year the 1040EZ had 12 lines.
Methodology: We looked at every 1040 from 1913 to 2011 and archival how abounding numbered band items a filer would accost if they didn’t charge to use addition anatomy or adding area. Band items acute addition anatomy or blueprint on a abstracted allotment of the 1040 were counted as one band item. We did not calculation sub-line items separately. That is, 3a, 3b, and 3c all calculation as one band item. All of the actual tax forms can be downloaded here.
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