If you’re a single mom, you probably want your taxes to be as quick and easy as possible. But that could end up increasing your tax bill – and saving money can be even more important than saving time.

Most single moms can’t use the 1040EZ – it doesn’t allow you to claim your kids as dependents. What’s more, single moms shouldn’t use the EZ form, because you can’t take valuable tax credits and deductions.

Form 1040A offers slightly more flexibility, especially when it comes to filing status and tax credits. But if you have your own business or some self-employment income, or you want to itemize deductions, this form is not for you.

To take advantage of every possible tax credit and deduction, use the full-blown Form 1040. Yes, it’s more work, and there are more lines to fill out. But it’s your best chance of shrinking your tax bill down to the very minimum.

Still not sure which form you want to use? Here’s everything you need to know to make your choice.


Not everyone can use the very brief, single-page 1040EZ form – and most single moms shouldn’t. But if your ex is claiming the kids as dependents and taking all the child-related credits, and you have a straightforward income situation, this simple form could work for you.

To qualify to use 1040EZ, you…

  • Must file as single
  • Can’t claim any dependents
  • Can’t claim any adjustments to your income (like IRA contributions or moving expenses)
  • Can’t earn more than $100,000 in taxable income
  • Can’t earn more than $1,500 in taxable interest

There are more rules – but these cover the basics. You can find the full list of requirements here.


More people can use the 1040A than the EZ, but it still has limitations. This form allows you to use the beneficial Head of Household tax status, plus it expands the number of credits you can take. On the other hand, using 1040A ties your hands when it comes to tax deductions. Plus, if you have a business or rental properties, you can’t use this form.

In order to use 1040A, you…

  • Can’t earn more than $100,000 in taxable income
  • Can’t itemize deductions (like mortgage interest and medical expenses)
  • Can only claim some adjustments to your income (like student loan interest but not moving expenses)
  • Can’t owe household employment taxes for an employee (like a nanny)

There are a few more rules limiting who can use the 1040A, and you can find them all here.


Anyone who doesn’t qualify to use a 1040A or EZ has to use this form…and that can be a good thing. When you use Form 1040, you have access to every possible reduction, deduction, and credit – and that gives you the best chance of paying the lowest possible tax bill.

With the 1040, you basically get to customize your tax return. You can choose to itemize your deductions, or stick with the standard. If you have a business – and that includes doing some freelance work on the side of your regular job – you can claim business expenses.

Most tax prep programs take the worry out of using the Form 1040. Most will walk you through your return, making sure you don’t miss any credits or deductions you’re entitled to. (We’ll talk more about those programs very soon.)

Bottom line: To reduce your tax bill to the absolute lowest it can go, take on Form 1040. And if you have questions, I’m here with answers.