Do I Have To File Taxes?

Updated for Tax Year 2015 (for returns filed in 2016)

Do I have to file taxes? How much do you have to make to file taxes?  

Good question.  But there are actually 2 questions here, so let’s break them apart.

  1. Should I file a federal tax return?
  2. Am I required to file a federal tax return? (Do I need to file a tax return?)

 

1. Should I file a tax return?

The short answer – if you earned any income in 2015, you should file in 2016 even if you’re not required to.  Why?  To get a refund!  Most likely Uncle Sam withheld taxes from your paychecks.  Usually he takes too much.  File a return and get some of your money back!  You may also be eligible for tax credits, like the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the Earned Income Credit (EIC).

I know, filing taxes can be a pain.  But TaxAct has drastically simplified tax preparation.  If it only takes a few minutes to get a few hundred bucks back, why not do it?  How else are you going to make that kind of money, that fast?

 

2. Am I required to file a tax return?

The details are below, but it’s even simpler for many young people.  If you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer and are under age 65, you must file a tax return if you earned more than $6,300 in 2015. 

If you can't be claimed as a dependent, then you must file a return if your gross income meets a threshold based on your age and filing status.

 

Filing Status                                         Age on 12/31/2015                                  Gross Income

Single                                                              Under 65                                                         $10,300

                                                                            65 or older                                                     $11,850

 

Head of Household                                 Under 65                                                        $13,250

                                                                            65 or older                                                     $14,800

 

Married Filing Jointly                        Under 65 (both)                                              $20,600

                                                                         65 or older (one)                                            $21,850

                                                                         65 or older (both)                                          $23,000

 

This is taxes so of course there are some wonky rules and special exceptions.  If you want to get into the gory details, you can check out the IRS website.

All of this information applies to federal taxes, many states have slightly different rules.

 



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