Do you ever wonder if you really have to file a tax return?
When I was younger, I always assumed that since I barely made anything, that it didn't make sense for me to file.
Filing taxes and whether or not you need to actually do so can be confusing. But if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can more easily understand where you are at in this. Not all people do need to file.
If you have a moderate to low income, for example, you may not have to. For those that get overwhelmed when filing taxes, this can be a plus.
Who Needs to File a Tax Return
The main factors that generally determine whether you need to file taxes or not are as follows:
- How you are filing or your filing status. For example, whether you are filing as a single person, or as a married couple filing jointly.
- Your age. Whether you are under the age of 65, or 65 and older.
- You gross income. Your total income earned before any taxes or deductions are taken out.
Income Limits for Filing Taxes – It's All in What You Make
The income guidelines for most people are fairly easy to follow if you know some facts. For example, singles under the age of 65 need to file this year if their gross income is at least $9,750. If they are 65 or older, their gross income has to be $11,200 or more.
For married couples filing together, they need to file their taxes if they are both under the age of 65 and their gross income is $19,500 or more. If just one of them is under 65 and they have a gross income of $20,650, they need to file as well. Lastly if both spouses are over 65, their gross income has to be $21,800 or more. On the other hand if you are married but filing separately, it does not matter what age you are, but if you have a gross income of $3,800 or more you need to file your taxes.
For those who wish to file as Head of Household and are under the age of 65, your income needs to be $12,500 or more. If you are 65 or older, your gross income needs to be $13,950 or more for you to file.
If you are a widow/widower with dependent children you would qualify to file taxes if you are younger than 65 with a gross income of $15,700 or more. At age 65 or more, your gross income has to be $16,850 or more for you to need to file taxes.
Possible Exceptions in Having to File
These are the main guidelines for most people. There are other rules and exceptions for dependents and for independent business owners. If you fall under one of these categories you should speak with your tax specialist to learn the best way to go about filing your taxes.
Even if your gross income falls below the requirements to file for your situation, you still may want to file to receive any credits you qualify for. Such credits are the Federal Income Tax Credit, the Making Money Work Pay Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Additional Child Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Credit, the First-Time Homebuyer Credit and the Health Coverage Credit.
For a full explanation of each of these benefits please visit http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=105097,00.html
Filing a Free Tax Return
If you have a low income without a lot of difficult tax scenarios (interest, deductions, and so forth) you can usually file a free tax return. Filing a free return insures that whether or not you absolutely needed to file an income tax return, you get it knocked out just in case.
Even better, it doesn't cost you anything.
There are two ways to file your free tax return:
- print off the forms from the IRS website and fill them out by hand
- use a free online tax software
Which one do you think sounds easier?
I highly recommend you use online tax software like TurboTax. Using software is easier than doing the forms by hand with the added benefit of not having to know how to fill out your tax return. TurboTax will walk you through filling out your free tax return by asking you simple questions. You are guaranteed to have an accurate return.
Plus, filing a free tax return with TurboTax means you can file electronically. You don't have to print the forms off, mail them into the IRS, and worry about your sensitive personal information being in the mail system.