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In figuring my tax return, it seems the standard deduction amount that I qualify for is higher than my total income for the year. SO when it says to subtract the standard deduction from the total income, I would have a negative number. I was not self employed at any point, I just didn't work much that year. So how do I go about figuring this? Also, there doesn't seem to be any place on the 1040 form to enter social security or medicare taxes as shown on my W2's, how does that get figured in?

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    The instructions for things like this usually have two parts: subtract line YYY from line XXX. If the result is less than 0, enter 0; otherwise, enter the difference. – Pete Becker Jun 19 '17 at 17:23
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    @PeteBecker: Form 1040 Line 41, the line for subtracting the standard or itemized deduction from the AGI, simply says to subtract and doesn't say anything about less than 0, so it can be negative. However, 2 lines later on Line 43 for subtracting the exemptions, it says to put 0 if it is less than 0, so the negative number disappears there. – user102008 Jun 19 '17 at 21:56
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Social security and medicare withholdings don't show up on the 1040 unless you overpaid, which is unlikely with W2 income. So you most likely have nothing to enter for those.

If your standard deduction is more than your income, then you have zero income tax liability and will be refunded any federal income tax withheld. You may also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, so look into that.

You likely meet the requirements for free federal e-filing from any of the major online tax software providers, they offer guidance that ensures the vast majority of people get everything entered properly. They often charge for state returns, which you can decline and file yourself separately if you want (many states piggy-back on the federal return, so they're easy once your federal return is filed). Otherwise, the instructions for the 1040 are quite thorough, but can be a bit overwhelming at first pass.

  • If you saw this coming before the end of the year, you could have converted from a traditional to a Roth IRA and not had any tax due. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 20 '17 at 9:30

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