Whether you’re a teenager earning your first paycheck or an older adult cruising toward retirement, it can be tricky determining when exactly you need to file your taxes. If you’re wondering how much you have to make to file taxes or how much you might expect to owe on your 2019 tax return, this is the post for you.

There are five main questions that help you determine the minimum income to file taxes:

  • How old are you?
  • What is your filing status?
  • Are you blind?
  • What is your gross income?
  • Is someone else claiming you as a dependent?

Once you have these answers, it’s relatively simple to figure out how much you need to make to file taxes. Remember that gross income is calculated as the total money you make before any taxes or deductions are taken out. If you are 65 years or older you may have to pay taxes even on social security, so it’s necessary to take that into account when deciding whether or not to file.

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Disclaimer: The following information is based on the 2019 tax year and will be updated each new tax season.

To find out how much you have to make to file taxes ASAP, use the links below to skip ahead.

How Much do you Have to Make to File Taxes?

The minimum salary to file taxes changes each year, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how much you have to make to file taxes each time tax season rolls around since there are penalties for filing taxes late. Below are the minimum income requirements to file taxes for the 2019 tax year:

Filing Status Age Minimum W-2 Income Minimum Self-Employment Income
Single Under 65 $12,200 $400
Single 65 or older $13,850 $400
Head of Household Under 65 $18,350 $400
Head of Household 65 or older $20,000 $400
Married Filing Jointly Under 65 (both spouses) $24,400 $400
Married Filing Jointly 65 or older (one spouse) $25,700 $400
Married Filing Jointly 65 or older (both spouses) $27,000 $400
Married Filing Separately Any age $12,200 $400
Qualifying Widow(er) Under 65 $24,400 $400
Qualifying Widow(er) 65 or older $25,700 $400

 

The minimum salary requirements for dependents to file taxes also differ. It gets a little trickier when you’re a dependent because you have to calculate both unearned income (such as investments) and earned income.

How much do you have to make to file taxes if you’re claimed as a dependent?

If you are claimed as a dependent, there are certain circumstances when the IRS could require you to file a tax return:

 

Single dependents under 65 and not blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $12,200
  • Unearned income exceeded $1,100
  • Gross income was more than the total 2019 threshold

Single dependents 65 years or older or blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $13,850
  • Unearned income exceeded $2,750
  • Their gross income exceeded the total 2019 threshold

Single dependents 65 years or older and blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $15,500
  • Unearned income exceeded $4,400
  • Their gross income exceeded the total 2019 threshold

Married dependents under 65 and not blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $12,200
  • Unearned income exceeded $1,100
  • Gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions

Married dependents 65 years of older or blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $13,500
  • Unearned income exceeded $2,400
  • Gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions

Married dependents 65 years of older and blind are required to file taxes if:

  • Earned income exceeded $14,800
  • Unearned income exceeded $3,700
  • Gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions

The minimum income requirement to file taxes are the combined total of your standard deduction and personal exemption. If you claim the standard deduction, take note that you cannot itemize deductions as well.

How Can I Get an Earned Income Tax Credit?

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit that reduces your tax bill dollar-for-dollar, unlike a tax deduction which reduces the amount of taxable income you have. This credit was created to help supplement salaries for low-income individuals and can be claimed whether or not you have children.

But similar to determining your minimum income requirement to file taxes, it can be complicated to determine your eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). To learn more about IRS Notice 797 and the Earned Income Tax Credit, visit the IRS website.

Should I File a Return Even If I Don’t Have To?

If you make less than the minimum salary requirements listed above, there’s no need to file taxes. However, there are a few possible reasons to file even if you fall below the minimum requirement line:

  • You may still have had some federal income tax withheld, so you’ll want to file a return to get that back via tax refund
  • You made at least $400 through self-employment endeavors
  • You may qualify for tax credits that can be treated as a refund even if it exceeds the amount you owe
  • You made estimated tax payments
  • You can protect yourself from future IRS audits by starting the timer on the statute of limitations (which is typically three years of past returns)

A reminder: if you choose to file federal taxes but fail to pay off other debts (such as state taxes or student loans) you could receive a tax offset which could jeopardize your ability to receive a return.

Do Students Have to File Taxes?

Students who are claimed as single dependents do not need to file a tax return if they have earned less than $12,200, the same as the dependent tax information outlined above.

Going to school and juggling classes is already stressful, so it’s important to know whether you need to add doing taxes into the mix as well. If you (the student) can be claimed as a dependent, you’ll need to file taxes if:

  • Your earned income is more than $12,200
  • Your unearned income is more than $1,100
  • Your business or self-employment net income is at least $400
  • Your gross income exceeds the total 2019 threshold

How Can I File a Tax Return?

If you’ve discovered you earn the minimum amount to file taxes and want to get a tax return, you’ll need to fill out a Form 1040. On this form, you will report your total salary and wages to determine how much money you will get back from a federal tax return, or whether you owe additional money.

Wrapping Up: How Much do you Need to Make to File Taxes

The minimum income to file taxes depends on your:

  • Age
  • Filing status
  • Disability (if you are blind)
  • Gross income
  • Whether or not you’re claimed as a dependent

Use these pieces of information and refer to the minimum income requirements outlined here to determine if you need to file taxes in 2019.

If this seems daunting, you can take advantage of tax preparation services to help you with the return or any other document you need to send to the IRS. Our tax preparation specialists have helped over 70,000 clients to make tax season more manageable. Contact us for a free tax consultation today!