Do Dependents Have to File Taxes?

Dependents with income may have to file a tax return

Depending on how much earned and unearned income they have, dependents may have to file a tax return

Even if you are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, you may still have to file a return of your own.

Whether or not you have to file depends on how much income you have, specifically how much earned and unearned income.

Only Earned Income

In the chart below is the amount of earned income above which a dependent must file a tax return. As with almost everything involving the IRS, this isn’t just one simple number. The threshold changes depending on your filing status, age, and blindness. Find your situation on the chart to see how much earned income will force you to file a return.

Filing Status Age/Blindness Earned Income
Single Under 65 and not blind $5,950
Either 65 or older or blind $7,400
Both 65 or older and blind $8,850
Married Under 65 and not blind $5,950
Either 65 or older or blind $7,100
Both 65 or older and blind $8,250

Only Unearned Income

If the only income the dependent received was unearned income, the thresholds at which they must file a return are significantly lower. As with earned income, the threshold is dictated by your filing status, age, and blindness.

Filing status Age/Blindness Unearned Income
Single Under 65 and not blind $950
Either 65 or older or blind $2,400
Both 65 or older and blind $3,850
Married Under 65 and not blind $950
Either 65 or older or blind $2,100
Both 65 or older and blind $3,250

Both Earned and Unearned Income

If the dependent in question has both earned income and unearned income, the process gets a little more complicated to figure out.

You must file a return if your gross income (the total amount of income you received during the year) is greater than $950 or your earned income plus $300, whichever is larger.

This applies to dependents who are under 65 and not blind. If you are 65 or older or blind and you have both earned and unearned income, refer to IRS publication 929 for more detailed information.

If you do end up having to file a tax return, don’t despair. Dependents tend to have relatively simple returns that you might be able to file for free on RapidTax.

Photo via moodboard on Flickr.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 at 3:56 pm and is filed under Tax Tips.

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