Should you be filing a Schedule D? A 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A? How about a Form 2106?

Tax Forms Central:
Click on the form to see a brief explanation of each form, and if you need to file it

Schedule A -- Itemized Deductions

Schedule B -- Interest and Ordinary Dividends

Schedule C -- Profit or Loss From Business

Schedule D -- Capital Gains and Losses

Schedule E -- Supplemental Income and Loss

Schedule H -- Household Employment Taxes

Schedule R -- Credit for the Elderly or Disabled

Schedule SE -- Self-Employment Tax

Form 1116 -- Foreign Tax Credit

Form 2106 -- Employee Business Expenses

Form 2441 -- Child and Dependent Care Expenses

Form 6251 -- Alternative Minimum Tax -- Individuals

Form 8283 -- Noncash Charitable Contributions

Form 8814 -- Parents' Election to Report Child's Interest and Dividends

Form 8829 -- Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

Form 8863 -- Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits)

Ah, once again it's tax season, and we all have to sift through the countless alphanumeric combinations to figure out which forms apply to us. Not to fear, today's Investor Forum is going to walk through all the forms and delve into all the questions about what you need to be filing this season, beginning with the question, "Do you even need to bother?"

I am assuming that you'll use a tax preparation product -- either on the Web or installed on your PC -- and you will walk through the interview process that will ask you billions of questions about your 2000 tax situation. If you take your time and answer everything properly, the numbers should just magically appear on the proper tax forms.

But you still need to ensure that all the appropriate forms are created and that the numbers fell in the right place. So we'll briefly go through the different forms you can expect to see, depending on your tax situation. Big note: All the forms discussed below can be found in this

section of the

Internal Revenue Service's

Web site.

Do You Even Need To Bother?

Whether you even need to file a 2000 tax return depends on your age, filing status and gross income. Gross income is all the income you received in 2000. That includes wages, interest, dividends, alimony, rental income, etc.

As a sampling, if you are single, under 65 and had gross income of $7,200 or more, you must file. If you are married filing jointly and both spouses are under 65 with gross income of $12,950 or more, you must file. The income limitations are higher if you are over 65. There's a great chart on page 5 of

Publication 17

-- Your Federal Income Tax

that addresses all the different filing statuses and age brackets.

If you made less than the amounts listed above but had taxes withheld on your wages, you still should file a return to get that tax back. The IRS has tons of money to give back and can't because taxpayers either don't file or haven't provided a recent address. As a matter of fact, the IRS still has about $2.4 billion in refunds for taxpayers who have yet to file their

1997

tax returns. For more information, check out this

section of the IRS' Web site. (Be aware that you need Abode Acrobat to read the release.)

Too Many 1040s

You have the option of using a 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 depending on your tax situation.

Here's a quick test. If your taxable income is more than $50,000 and you itemize your deductions, then you have to use the regular ol' 1040. If not, you can consider the 1040EZ or the 1040A.

The 1040EZ is, well, the easiest and the shortest. You can use it if you file either as a single person or married filing jointly only if you have no dependents, are under 65 and not blind. (There are special breaks for blind taxpayers.) In addition, your taxable income must be less than $50,000 and mainly be from wages, tips, unemployment compensation, and taxable interest of $400 or less. Also, you cannot itemize your deductions on this form.

If you don't meet these requirements but your taxable income is less than $50,000, consider the 1040A. In addition to the income listed on the 1040EZ, this form also allows income from pensions and annuities, Social Security, mutual fund capital gain distributions (this is

new for 2000), IRA distributions and an unlimited amount of interest and dividends. You still cannot itemize, but you can take the child tax credit, education credit and earned income credit to name a few.

The rest of us are stuck with the regular ol' 1040. Consider this form a two-page summary of your entire tax return. Many of the numbers on your 1040 will come from other forms. But some numbers, like your wages and any alimony you received, are reported directly on your 1040.

But if you file a 1040, you can expect to see a bunch of other forms pop up once you hit "print" or "preview."

Depending on the tax product you use, a bunch of miscellaneous backup schedules with wage information and personal information, like your address and dependents' information, also will be created. These are not filed with the IRS. They are for your own records (in case you tend to forget the names of your children).

But here's a list of some of the forms that you must file with the IRS. Click on the form to see why you would need to file it. If you fit the bill, make sure your tax preparation software is generating it and that it gets filed with the rest of your tax return:

Schedule A -- Itemized Deductions

Schedule B -- Interest and Ordinary Dividends

Schedule C -- Profit or Loss From Business

Schedule D -- Capital Gains and Losses

Schedule E -- Supplemental Income and Loss

Schedule H -- Household Employment Taxes

Schedule R -- Credit for the Elderly or Disabled

Schedule SE -- Self-Employment Tax

Form 1116 -- Foreign Tax Credit

Form 2106 -- Employee Business Expenses

Form 2441 -- Child and Dependent Care Expenses

Form 6251 -- Alternative Minimum Tax -- Individuals

Form 8283 -- Noncash Charitable Contributions

Form 8814 -- Parents' Election to Report Child's Interest and Dividends

Form 8829 -- Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

Form 8863 -- Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits)

TSC Investor Forum aims to provide general investment information. It cannot and does not attempt to provide individual advice. All readers are urged to consult with a professional as needed about their individual circumstances.