The IRS doesn’t require every citizen to file come tax time. It depends on your age, filing status, income level, and the source of your income. You can refer to the below table to see if you meet the requirements for filing a tax return.

Filing Status Age As Of The End of the Tax Year Gross Income Minimum For Filing
Single Under 65

65 or Older



Married Filing Jointly Under 65 (Both Spouses)

65 or Older (One Spouse)

65 or Older (Both Spouses)




Married Filing Separately Any Age $5
Head of Household Under 65

65 or Older



Qualifying Widower Under 65

65 or Older



It’s important to keep in mind that even if you do not meet the minimum requirements laid out above, there are a few special exemptions in which you may be required to file with the IRS anyway:

  • You owe special taxes. These include things like the alternative minimum tax, tax penalties for withdrawing early from a 401(k) or IRA, household employment tax, or Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips
  • You or your spouse withdrew money from a health savings account
  • Your net earnings from self-employment were at least $400.

How Do Dependents Work on Tax Forms?

Parents can claim their children as dependents on their taxes, which has its own benefits, Children can be claimed as dependent and have their income reported on their parents’ taxes if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • The child is under age 19, or under age 24 and is a full-time student at the end of the tax year
  • The child’s income was 100% from interest, dividends, and capital gains distributions.
  • Their income from dividends is less than $11,000
  • The child didn’t have federal income tax withheld, didn’t make estimated tax payments, and didn’t have an overpayment applied from a prior tax return.
  • The child doesn’t file a joint return with a spouse
  • You, your spouse, or dependent received an advance payment of the premium tax credit when you purchase health insurance coverage.

Why Might You Want To File Taxes Even If You Don’t Have To?

If you don’t meet the filing threshold, you don’t have to file, but you still can, and in some cases, should. Some of the benefits of filing taxes even when you don’t have to include:

  • You can get a refund of estimated or withheld taxes
  • You can claim refundable tax credits
  • You can start the clock on statute of limitations

Don’t forget, these laws only apply to federal returns–your state will have different rules and regulations concerning who needs to file state returns.