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Do I need to file taxes?


When most taxpayers have to file tax returns?

Usually taxpayers must file taxes if their personal exemptions and standard deductions plus additional standard deductions* if applicable do not cover your income for the tax year. For example, if in 2012 you were single your standard deduction would be $5,950 and personal exemption $3,800 which makes total of $9,750. So, if your earning were less than that you probably do not need to file your taxes for the tax year if you do not owe anything to the IRS.

*You might qualify for additional standard deductions if you are 65 and older, blind, or both. You and your spouse (if MFS) must not itemize for the tax year.

To demonstrate another example, let’s assume that you were head of household (HOH) 65 years or older in 2012. In this case you would have standard deduction of $8,700 plus additional standard deduction of $1,450 and personal exemption of $3,800. It will total up to $13,950. So, with all of that mentioned above in mind if you earned less than this amount in 2012 you generally do not need to file the tax return. However, it does not necessarily mean that you should not file at all. There might be other reasons why it may be better to file than not about which you can read below.

When married filing separately (MFS) should file tax returns?

If you were married as of the end of the tax year you are considered married for that year for tax purposes. This is true even if you got married on December 31 of the year for most taxpayers. Therefore, if you were married and do not want to file as married filing jointly (MFJ) for any reason, you have to file as MFS. By choosing this filing status you need to file if you earned $3,800 or more regardless of age for 2012.

When self-employed individuals need to file taxes?

There are different rules for self-employed individuals. The only time they might not need to file if their income is less than $400 for 2012 tax year. If you earned more than that you need to report that earnings regardless of whether it is your first, second, or side business and you have wages from a regular full time job.

Should I do my taxes even if I am not required to?

There are some cases when you might not be required to file a tax return, but it is in your best interest to do so rather than not to. For example, you might choose to file your tax return:
- if you want to get your withheld money back
- if you made more estimated payments throughout the tax year than necessary
- if you can claim dependents and eligible for earned income credit, child tax credit, additional child tax credit, and / or child and dependent care expense credit
- if you were a student and want to get American Opportunity Credit (AOC), Life Time Credit or Tuition and fees deduction benefits

For more information read IRS Publication 17