What is a Tax Return?

A tax return is a set of forms that a taxpayer uses to calculate and report taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

How Does a Tax Return Work?

April 15 is the annual deadline for filing a tax return, though some types of taxpayers must file tax returns quarterly. Most individual taxpayers use one of the IRS's 1040 form in addition to forms that report or calculate taxes owed or paid on special types of income.

In general, a tax return involves calculating gross income, capital gains/losses, deductions, interest payments, distributions, and tax credits.

Why Does a Tax Return Matter?

Tax returns are the key components of the IRS's tax collection efforts. The IRS recommends that individual taxpayers keep their tax returns for at least seven years.

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Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy

Paul has been a respected figure in the financial markets for more than two decades. Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 3 million monthly readers.