Who is required to file a federal income tax return

By New York Tax Attorney

Before discussing who is required to file a federal income tax return form, it is necessary to state that the requirement to file a return depends upon a person’s filing status, age and gross annual income.  These three pieces of information should give you an idea if you are required to file a federal income tax return on April 15every year. A New York Tax Attorney can help explain this to you.

Filing status

Filing status is whether the taxpayer is single, or is a head of a household, married and filing jointly, married and filing separately or is a widow or a widower with a dependent child.  All taxpayers with that status, and who are aged under 65 or aged over 65 are required to file an income tax return depending upon your gross income.

A qualified widow or widower with a dependent child is a taxpayer whose spouse died within the last two years and has not remarried; one who has a child or a stepchild for whom the taxpayer can claim an exemption; and has paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home.  The costs of keeping up a home include mortgage payments, insurance and taxes.

Gross income

Gross income means all the income received as cash money, goods, property or services that is not exempt from tax sourced from inside or outside the United States.  Gross income does not include social security benefits. Alimony payments are included in gross income.

Items that are not included in ‘gross income’ are child support payments, gifts, bequests, inheritances workers’ compensation benefits, welfare benefits, compensatory damages awarded for physical injury or illness; cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer and meals and lodging given to you but for the convenience of your employer.

The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy may be included in gross income only if the cash surrender value is greater than the cost of the life insurance policy.  Scholarship or fellowship grants are excluded from gross income.

What about income from outside the US?

A US citizen must report all his income even those from sources outside the US unless it is specifically exempt.  This includes earned income such as wages and tips; but it also includes unearned income such as interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, rents and royalties.

Who are required to file a federal return?

A. Persons aged 65 or over if he or she is

  • Single, and has a gross income of at least $11,500
  • Head of household, and has a gross income of at least $14,350
  • Married, filing jointly and has a gross income of at least $21,200
  • Qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child and has a gross income is at least $17,300

B. Persons aged under 65 if he or she is

  • Single, and has a gross income of at least $10,000
  • Head of household and has a gross income of at least $12,850
  • Married filing jointly and has a gross income of at least $20,000
  • Qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child and has a gross income of at least $16,100

To know if you should file a return and the advantages of filing a tax return, you may speak with our New York Bank Attorneys. We at the Maxwell Law Firm, PLLC assist clients with filing tax extensions, tax return preparation, amendments, tax collection defense, tax settlements, and other services. If you need assistance please feel free to call us at 718-701-0095 to discuss your options.