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Tax Guide
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Minimum Filing Requirements for US Federal Tax Return

Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

Factors such as age, disability, filing status, and income will determine whether or not the U.S. federal government requires you to file a tax return. The charts below will assist you in determining this.

However, just because you are not required to file a tax return does not necessarily mean you shouldn't. Later in this article, we will discuss the reasons to file a tax return even when it is not required.

Minimum Income Requirements Based on Age and Status

There is no set minimum income for filing a return. The amount varies according to both filing status and age. The minimum taxable income level for each group is listed in the following chart. If your income falls below what is listed for your age group and marital status, you are not required to file a return.

Filing Status Age Minimum Income Requirement
Single
Under 65
65 or older
$12,400
$14,050
Married Filing Separately Any age $5
Head of Household
Under 65
65 or older
$18,650
$20,300
Married Filing Jointly
Under 65 (both spouses)
65 or older (one spouse)
65 or older (both spouses)
$24,800
$26,100
$27,400
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Children
Under 65
65 or older
$24,800
$26,100
Self-Employment
Any
$400

Age and Status Requirements for Dependents

Being claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes changes the rules a bit, and it does not rule out the possibility that you will still be required to file. If you are an adult, working dependent, you will likely be required to file your own return.

Marriage Status Age Minimum Income Requirement
Single Dependents Under 65 (and not blind) $12,400 earned
(or
$1,100 unearned)
Single Dependents 65 or older OR blind $14,050 earned
(or
$2,750 unearned)
Single Dependents 65 or older AND blind $15,700 earned
(or
$4,400 unearned)
Married Dependents Under 65 (and not blind) $12,400 earned
(or
$1,100 unearned) OR Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
Married Dependents 65 or older OR blind $13,700 earned income (or
$2,400 unearned) OR Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions
Married Dependents 65 or older AND blind $15,000 earned
(or
$3,700 unearned) OR Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions

Special Circumstances

Even if your income bracket is below the minimum listed for your age group and status, you usually must file a Federal Tax Return if you fall into any of the following “special circumstances” categories.

  • If your self-employment earnings totaled $400 or more
  • If you owe tax on a health savings account or a retirement plan
  • If you owe Alternative Minimum Tax
  • If you owe household employment taxes
  • If you earned at least $108.28 in wages from a tax-exempt church or church-controlled organization
  • If you received distributions from a Health Savings Account or an MSA
  • If you are required to repay a 2008 Homebuyer Credit (or other recapture tax)
  • If you owe Social Security/Medicare taxes on unreported income (tips)

Why You May Want to File Anyway

Not being required to file may be a bad reason not to do so, especially if you could use a little extra money following the holiday season. Refunds cannot be claimed without filing a return. Here are some reasons why a refund might be due to you:

  • If you qualify for the First-Time Homebuyer Credit
  • If you qualify for the Health Coverage Tax Credit
  • If you have overpaid estimated tax
  • If you qualify for a federal fuel tax credit
  • If taxes were withheld from your pay
  • If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • If you qualify for the American Opportunity Credit
  • If you have children and qualify for the Child Tax Credit
  • If you adopted a child and qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit
  • If you can claim the Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax