A:

This may come as a surprise to many individuals, but not everyone needs to file a federal tax return.

According to the IRS, many individuals who do not need to file tax returns still do, because they are not aware of the requirements.

To determine whether you need to file a federal tax return, you must first look at your gross income. In general, you need not file a federal tax return if your tax filing status and age and you gross income is up to the amounts listed below.

However, even if your gross income is not more than the amounts indicated in the below chart, you may still need to file a return under certain circumstances.


Filing Status* Amount
Single $9,350
65 or Older $10,750
Head of Household $12,050
65 or Older $13,450
Married Filing Jointly $18,700
Not Living with Spouse at End of Year $3,650
One Spouse 65 or Older $19,800
Both Spouses 65 or Older $20,900
Married Filing Separately $3,650
*If you are the dependent of another taxpayer, see the instrustioncs for Form 1040 for more information on whether you must file a return.

You may still need to file, if:

  • You are eligible for a tax refund,
  • You are eligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC),
  • You are a self-employed individual and had more than $400 in earnings from self-employment during the year,
  • You owe an excise tax on retirement plan assets or
  • You owe social security and Medicare tax on tips that you did not report to your employer.

The key is to understand that you may not need to file a tax return. However, in order to make an absolute determination, you must look beyond your age, tax filing status and gross income.

Detailed information is available in IRS Publication 17 and the instructions for filing Form 1040.

To read more frequently asked tax questions, How can I tell if I'm eligible for an EITC?, I sold my house, can I exclude the gain from my income?, How can I make sure I'm ready to file my taxes? and Common Tax Questions Answered.

Question answered by Denise Appleby, CISP, CRC, CRPS, CRSP, APA

RELATED FAQS
  1. Do I need to file an income tax return every year?

    Understand if a person needs to file a tax return every year. Learn the benefits of filing a yearly income tax return even ... Read Answer >>
  2. How do I use the IRS Free File tax forms?

    Free File is a way for taxpayers to prepare and file their federal taxes online for free. The service is available to individuals ... Read Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between federal and state withholding tax?

    Discover whether you can file your taxes by yourself. The three main options for tax preparation are a tax professional, ... Read Answer >>
  4. Will I pay taxes on my Social Security payouts?

    Find out if you're one of the people who has to pay federal income taxes on the Social Security benefit you receive. Read Answer >>
  5. What's the difference between a tax rate and a tax bracket?

    These two terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Find out the difference between your tax rate and your tax bracket. ... Read Answer >>
  6. How do I find out what my tax bracket is?

    Learn the information you need to determine what your tax bracket is. Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Next Season, File Taxes On Your Own

    Master these fundamentals and you'll be doing your own taxes with minimal stress.
  2. Savings

    Explaining Tax Returns

    A tax return is the form or forms used to file income taxes with the IRS.
  3. Taxes

    Get a 6-Month Tax Extension

    Discover how to get some extra time from the IRS, without paying a hefty penalty for the privilege.
  4. Taxes

    Late with Your Taxes? Grab IRS Form 4868

    Fill out this form to get a few more months to file your tax return. But remember, April 15 is still the payment due date if you owe taxes.
  5. Taxes

    Missed the Tax Return Deadline? Here's What to Do

    Most important: Do it now.
  6. Taxes

    Top Reasons to File Separately When Married

    Most of the time, it makes sense for couples to file their taxes jointly. Except for these possible exceptions...
  7. Taxes

    6 Sources For Free Tax Help

    From community-based services to free software, there are many free resources to help with your taxes.
  8. Professionals

    Introduction

    Introduction
  9. Taxes

    How & Where to File Form 1040 (And Which Version)

    All taxpayers need to know three things when filing a 1040: which form to use, how to file and where to file. After reading this, you'll know all three.
  10. Taxes

    Confused About Estimated Tax Deadlines for 2016?

    If you run a business or have investment income, pay attention to this year's estimated tax deadlines. Here are the details, and what's new for 2016.
RELATED TERMS
  1. IRS Publication 501

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service that covers ...
  2. IRS Publication 17

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service that outlines ...
  3. Joint Return

    A U.S. income tax return filed on behalf of a married couple, ...
  4. Tax Return

    1. The tax form or forms used to file income taxes with the Internal ...
  5. Married Filing Jointly

    A filing status for married couples that have wed before the ...
  6. Consolidated Tax Return

    A comprehensive tax return that encompasses a group of smaller ...

You May Also Like

Trading Center