Do I have to file a tax return?

If your income is low enough, you may not need to file a tax return. However, even if you do not have to file, you should file a federal income tax return if you are getting a refund from the IRS. If you had income tax withheld from your wages, you qualify for the earned income credit, or you qualify for the additional child tax credit, you should file a return to get your refund.

In most situations (see exceptions below), you don't have to file a 2016 tax return if your gross income is less than what is shown in the following table for your filing status. Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States (even if you may exclude part or all of it). Social security benefits are not included as gross income unless you are married filing a separate return and lived with your spouse at any time in 2016.

Filing Status Age Gross Income
Single under 65 10350
Single 65 or older 11900
Married Filing Jointly under 65 (both spouses) 20700
Married Filing Jointly 65 or older (one spouse) 21950
Married Filing Jointly 65 or older (both spouses) 23200
Married Filing Separately any age 4050
Head of Household under 65 13350
Head of Household 65 or older 14900
Qualifying Widow(er) under 65 16650
Qualifying Widow(er) 65 or older 17900


Filing Requirement If You Are a Dependent
If your parents (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, and any of the situations below apply to you, you must file a return.

Single dependents who are younger than age 65 and not blind must file a return if any of the following apply:
1. Your unearned income was more than 1050.
2. Your earned income was more than 6300.
3. Your gross income was more than the larger of: 1) 1050, or 2) Your earned income (up to 5950) plus 350.

Single dependents who are older than age 65 or blind must file a return if any of the following apply:
1. Your earned income was more than 7850 (9400 if 65 or older and blind).
2. Your unearned income was more than 2600 (4150 if 65 or older and blind).
3. Your gross income was more than the larger of: 1) your earned income (up to 5950) plus 1900 (3450 if 65 or older and blind), or 2) 2600 (4150 if 65 or older and blind).

Married dependents who are younger than age 65 and not blind must file a return if any of the following apply:
1. Your earned income was more than 6300.
2. Your unearned income was more than 1050.
3. Your gross income was more than the larger of: 1) 1050, or 2) Your earned income (up to 5950) plus 350.
4. Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

Married dependents who are older than age 65 or blind must file a return if any of the following apply:
1. Your earned income was more than 7550 (8800 if 65 or older and blind).
2. Your unearned income was more than 2300 (3550 if 65 or older and blind).
3. Your gross income was more than the larger of: 1) your earned income (up to 5950) plus 1600 (2850 if 65 or older and blind) or 2) 2300 (3550 if 65 or older and blind).
4. Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

Children under age 19
If your child is younger than age 19 and the child's only income is interest and dividends (including Alaska Permanent Fund dividends) and certain other conditions are met, a parent can elect to include the child's income on the parent's return. If this election is made, the child does not have to file a return. The election is made on Form 8814.

Other Situations When You Must File
You must file a return even if your income is less than the normal filing threshold if any of the following conditions below apply for 2016.
1. You owe any special taxes, such as Social security and Medicare tax on tips you did not report to your employer, Uncollected social security and Medicare or RRTA tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance, Alternative minimum tax, Tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account.
2. You (or your spouse, if filing jointly) received HSA, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA distributions..
3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least 400.
4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.


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