What is a Tax Schedule?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A tax schedule can refer to several different things. It can first refer to scales published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which can help you determine your total tax amount. These are useful if you earn in excess of $100,000 US Dollars (USD) per year. They help you determine tax amount by helping you understand what percentage of your income is owed based on your taxable income. This is in contrast to a tax table, used by most people making less the $100,000 USD, where you can look at your taxable income and derive exact tax owed based on the amount you make.

The term "tax schedule" may refer to the tax scale that is released by the IRS or supplemental forms that are filed separately from a Form 1040.
The term "tax schedule" may refer to the tax scale that is released by the IRS or supplemental forms that are filed separately from a Form 1040.

More often, though, the tax schedule is many other forms that you may file in conjunction with your yearly filing of taxes. There are numbers of schedules that you might need to file depending upon your circumstances. In the US, for instance, a person who is self-employed must file a tax schedule called Schedule C which helps determines your profit or loss if you run a business, and a Schedule SE, which allows you to figure out the money you may owe in Social Security taxes. There are then places on the standard 1040 income tax form, which allow you to insert the results of a tax schedule, and may raise or lower the total amount of taxes you pay yearly.

The tax schedule sets rates at which different income groups are responsible for paying taxes, based on a percentage that rises with income.
The tax schedule sets rates at which different income groups are responsible for paying taxes, based on a percentage that rises with income.

A number of tax schedule examples are filed by people who itemize their taxes, and who especially must account for sudden surges in income (as through capital gains or profits on investment) or large decreases in income. If you lose or make a lot of money on your investments in a single year, you might file Schedule D to report “capital gains and losses.” Alternately, when you receive large amounts of interest income or dividend payouts, you may need to file Schedule B to report this.

People who would like to itemize all deductions tend to fill out and file Tax Schedule A, which gives you an opportunity to take other than the standard deductions offered by the IRS. This is likely one of the most common tax schedules filed and may help lessen the money you earn that is considered taxable income. For many, though, filling out a complicated tax schedule is not fun, and it takes considerably more time to complete additional schedules than it does to simply use standard deductions.

One of the difficulties if you have to file more than one tax schedule is that it’s not always easy to determine order in which each schedule is filed. You may have to jump back and forth between several forms before you can completely fill out all forms. You should also be sure if you’re completing your own taxes to obtain all instructions if you need to fill out tax schedules. These will help immensely because directions on each schedule aren’t always clear.

Most 1040 related tax schedules do not come with the standard 1040 instructions. Fortunately, you can download both instructions and forms on the IRS website if you need to fill out a number of schedules. This is especially helpful if you don’t have access to a nearby IRS office, or you’ve waited until the last minute to file your taxes.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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