AGI or Adjusted Gross Income is the figure which represents how much a tax payer earned and is responsible for paying taxes on with respect to the prior tax year. It includes all income sources, but is often smaller than the total gross income as a select number of adjustments (deductions, credits, certain expenses, etc) are made to this figure in accordance with the US tax code. These adjustments, which can include retirement accounts, work related expenses, education and other expenses, are often phased out for higher income earners.
Knowing what this figure is can be helpful when determining if you qualify for certain tax breaks and/or programs, for example the Earned Income Tax Credit. It is also very commonly used to sign or verify a tax payer’s identity when electronically filing with the IRS.
To identify your AGI from your tax return (prior to 2018) look to the following lines:
If you filed Form 1040 it will be listed on line 37.
If you filed Form 1040A it will be listed on line 21.
If you filed Form 1040-EZ it will be listed on line 4.
Before electronically transmitting a tax filing you may be asked to enter either your prior year adjusted gross income (AGI) or a PIN. This is done as a way of electronically signing your tax filing. The IRS requires this to help protect against unauthorized filings. As such, if you filed your taxes in the previous year, this information is required in order to e-file an extension. Please note: If you did not file your taxes last year, you can usually enter 0 for your Prior Year AGI and leave the PIN fields empty.
A PIN or personal identification number, is usually five digits long and helps to verify the person filing is the individual taxpayer or on behalf of the taxpayer. By using this verification system, the IRS is attempting to help protect taxpayers from fraud.
If you don't recall the PIN you used last year or wish to use your previous year’s AGI to sign, you can request a new Electronic Filing PIN from the IRS, which may be used to sign your extension. To find more information on requesting this, see the following http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Electronic-Filing-PIN-Request or call 1-866-704-7388 (An automated answering service may ask questions to help verify your identity).
Even if you did not file your income taxes last year you can still file an extension. If you do not have or do not remember this information you can proceed with an extension by printing and mailing it. However, if you do wish to file electronically, you will need "sign" your electronic filing with your AGI or Self-Selected IRS filing PIN as well as possible other information.