The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department unveiled Friday a draft version of the postcard-size Form 1040 that was promised from last year’s tax reform effort.

For the 2019 tax season, the shorter Form 1040 will replace the current Form 1040, along with the Form 1040A and the Form 1040EZ. The IRS plans to work with the professional tax community to finalize the streamlined Form 1040 over the summer.

“As part of the historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this Administration committed to making taxes simple and fair for American families. We are delivering on this promise,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “The new, postcard-size Form1040 is designed to simplify and expedite filing tax returns, providing much-needed relief to hardworking taxpayers.”

Front of "simplified" Form 1040

Mnuchin promised last week to release the form this week (see Postcard-size 1040 tax form to be released next week). While there is an image of the front and back of the form shown on a web page on the Treasury Department’s website, the Form 1040 form was still unavailable as of early Friday afternoon on the IRS’s draft tax form page, although there’s a message that it will be posted on IRS.gov soon.

Back of "simplified" Form 1040

The simplified Form 1040 aims to streamline the tax prep process so all 150 million taxpayers can file the same type of form. The new form consolidates the three versions of the 1040 into a single form. The IRS will still get the information from each taxpayer needed to determine their tax liability or refund.

Although the form is postcard-size, it still asks for a taxpayer’s Social Security number, so it should still be mailed in an envelope to protect taxpayer privacy. With the popularity of electronic filing, it’s unclear how many taxpayers will opt to mail in the paper form anyway. Also, while the form itself has been shortened it may not actually simplify the tax prep process since it now requires attaching five other schedules, in addition to Schedule A for taxpayers who choose to itemize rather than taking the expanded standard deduction that was doubled by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the new tax form. “The administration’s new tax form is a smokescreen designed to conceal paperwork, additional calculations and Trump’s broken promise to simplify the tax code,” he said in a statement. “It won’t take long for America to realize this postcard isn’t simple – it’s simply complicated. Just like the rest of Trump’s tax law the middle class is not going to fall for this con.”

President Trump marked the six-month anniversary of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with an event at the White House on Friday. "Six months ago, we unleashed an economic miracle by signing the biggest tax cuts and reforms," he said.

The IRS said the new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach, in which the tax return is reduced to a simple form. The form can then be supplemented with additional schedules if needed, but taxpayers with straightforward tax situations would only need to file the new “simplified” 1040 with no additional schedules.

The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in an email Friday that the new return consolidates the personal information section of the form on the front, while the lines used most frequently by Americans are all on the back so that the lion’s share of taxpayers won’t need anything beyond this form. However, for those who do need to itemize, any additional sheets are topic-specific so taxpayers can choose the one they need. Ryan's office said the new system streamlines online filing as well, but didn't specify how.

Since more than nine out of 10 taxpayers use software or a tax preparer, the IRS said it will be working with the tax community to prepare for the streamlined Form 1040. That will also help provide a smooth transition for people who are familiar with tax prep software products and the interview process used to prepare tax returns.

Taxpayers who file on paper would use the new streamlined Form 1040 and supplement it with any schedules they needed.

The IRS said in an email to tax professionals Friday that they can submit comments about the draft Form 1040 to WI.1040.Comments@IRS.gov.

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