What is the tax return filing threshold?

Generally

For 2019 tax returns, you’re required to file as follows based on your filing status:

IF your filing status is… AND at the end of 2019 you were… THEN file a return if your gross income was at least…
single under 65 $12,200
65 or older $13,850
head of household under 65 $18,350
65 or older $20,000
married, filing jointly under 65 (both spouses) $24,400
65 or older (one spouse) $25,700
65 or older (both spouses) $27,000
married, filing separately any age $5 (yes, this is really $5 and not a typo)
qualifying widow(er) under 65 $24,400
65 or older $25,700

Gross income includes all income. For social security income, include 1/2 one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income ($32,000 if married filing jointly).

Even if you are below the above thresholds, you must file if any of the 7 situations apply to you:

  1. You owe any special taxes such as AMT, additional tax on a qualified plan, security security or medicare tax on tips you didn’t to report to your employer, write-in taxes, household employment taxes, and recapture taxes.
  2. You (or your spouse if filing jointly) received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage MSA, or health savings account distributions.
  3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.
  4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.
  5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  6. Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent.
  7. You are required to include amounts in income under section 965 or you have a net tax liability under section 965 that you are paying in installments under section 965(h) or deferred by making an election under section 965(i).

Filing requirements for dependents

There is a tax return filing threshold for a dependent child if their:
  • unearned income was more than $1,100.
  • earned income was more than $12,200.
  • gross income was more than the larger of— a. $1,100, or b. Earned income (up to $11,850) plus $350
IF the child has a tax return filing requirement, THEN the parent may report the child’s income if all the following requirements are met:
  • The child was under age 19 (or under age 24 if a full-time student) at the end of 2019.
  • The child’s only income was from interest and dividends, including capital gain distributions and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.
  • The child’s gross income for 2019 was less than $11,000.
  • The child is required to file a 2019 return.
  • The child does not file a joint return for 2019.
  • There were no estimated tax payments for the child for 2019 (including any overpayment of tax from his or her 2018 return applied to 2019 estimated tax).
  • There was no federal income tax withheld from the child’s income.

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