Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do I Have To File a Tax Return?

Yes, you must file a federal income tax return if you are a U.S. citizen. However, there are certain instances where a taxpayer does not have to file a return based on three factors:
  • Gross Income
  • Filing Status
  • Age
You must file a return if your gross income is at least the amount shown for your age and filing status.

Filing statusYounger than 6565 or older
(born before January 2, 1946)
Head of household$12,050$13,450
Married filing jointly$18,700$19,800 - one spouse
$20,900 - both spouses
Qualifying widow/widower with dependent child$15,050$16,150
Married filing separately$3,650$3,650

Gross Income includes all income received during the tax year that is subject to tax including:
  • Wages, salaries, bonuses, fringe benefits, tips
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Interest and dividends
  • Refund of state and local taxes
  • Alimony
  • Self-employment and hobby income
  • Gains from the sale of properties
  • Pension, annuities, IRA distributions
  • Taxable portion of social security or railroad retirement benefits
  • Jury duty, gambling winnings, scholarships, debt cancellations, court awards
If the taxpayer is claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return, the filing requirements are determined by Gross Income, Earned Income, Unearned Income, Marital Status, Age, and Blindness. See IRS Publication 929 for a worksheet.

Some situations requires the taxpayer to file a tax return:
  • Net earnings from self-employment of at least $400
  • Receipt of advance earned income credit (EIC) reported in box 9 of Form W-2
  • Uncollected Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • Additional tax on a distribution from a qualified retirement plan, IRA, Archer MSA or Coverdel ESA
  • Repayment of first-time homebuyer credit
  • Household employment taxes
Even if the taxpayer is not required to file a return, it makes sense to file a return and receive a refund if:

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