Who has to file taxes?
Believe it or not, some people make it through tax-filing season without any hassle. That's because the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require them to file taxes. Unfortunately, most of us aren't that lucky. So just who has to file a tax return?
Tax filing earnings thresholds for 2012 taxes
|Filing status||Younger than 65||65 or older|
|Head of household||$12,500||$13,950|
|Married filing jointly||$19,500 (both spouses)||$20,650 (one spouse 65 or older) $21,800 (both spouses 65 or older)|
|Qualifying widow/widower with dependent child||$15,700||$16,850|
|Married filing separately||$3,800||$3,800|
File a return
Three things must be considered when determining whether you have to file a return: your age, your filing status and your income. Generally, once you reach a certain income level, the law requires you to file. The amounts are adjusted annually for inflation.
The income amounts also are based on taxpayer age on the last day of the tax year.
Individuals younger than age 65 must file if they make certain amounts. The earnings threshold amounts go up a bit for older (65-plus) individuals.
Regardless of age, the earnings target is the same for married couples who file separate tax returns.
In most situations, your age for tax purposes depends on how old you were on the last day of the year. But when it comes to determining whether you have to file a return, the IRS says if you turned 65 on New Year's Day, you are considered to be 65 at the end of the previous tax year. The one-day grace period allows you to use the higher income thresholds to determine whether you must file a tax return.
Dependents and filing
The IRS also has different rules for dependents who earn money. And even though it's children we're usually talking about, the IRS doesn't make it easy, setting different earning standards for the two types of income -- unearned or earned -- that trigger filing requirements.