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

  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 >>
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Tax Tips For First-Time Filers

    Here is a quick rundown on what you need to know if you're filing your taxes for the first time.
  2. Taxes

    Tax Credits That Can Get You a Refund

    Here are a few of the credits that may result in a refund check, even if you owe no taxes this year.
  3. Taxes

    Why Do So Many People Fall Behind On Their Taxes?

    Despite the threat of owing thousands of dollars to possibly the most feared organization in the U.S., millions of Americans continue to fall behind on their taxes.
  4. 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.
  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

    Usually couples file their taxes jointly, not separately. 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. Managing Wealth

    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.
  9. Taxes

    Simple Last-Minute Tax Tips

    A little preparation and organization can take the stress out of last-minute tax filing.
  10. Taxes

    What's IRS Form 1040 For?

    Most U.S. taxpayers will be familiar with the 1040. By the end of filling it out, you'll know how much tax you owe, or what your refund is.
  1. IRS Publication 17

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service that outlines ...
  2. Individual Tax Return

    The type of tax return filed by an individual. Both single and ...
  3. Consolidated Tax Return

    A comprehensive tax return that encompasses a group of smaller ...
  4. Tax Season

    The time period between January 1 and April 15 of each year in ...
  5. Married Filing Separately

    A filing status for married couples who choose to record their ...
  6. Tax Return

    1. The tax form or forms used to file income taxes with the Internal ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Racketeering

    A fraudulent service built to serve a problem that wouldn't otherwise exist without the influence of the enterprise offering ...
  2. Federal Debt

    The total amount of money that the United States federal government owes to creditors. The government's creditors include ...
  3. Passive Management

    A style of management associated with mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETF) where a fund's portfolio mirrors a market index. ...
  4. Series 7

    A general securities registered representative license administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) ...
  5. Compound Interest

    Compound Interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods ...
  6. Expatriation Tax

    An expatriation tax is a tax on someone who renounces their citizenship. In the United States, the expatriation tax provisions ...
Trading Center