How Much Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

Here's how much you have to make to file taxes, and why you might want to file this year even if it's not required.

Tina OremDecember 5, 2020
Do I Have to File a Tax Return?
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Filing a tax return is an annual ritual for most people — but actually, not everyone has to file taxes. Generally speaking, if your income is below a certain level, you might not have to file a tax return with the IRS. Here's how much do you have to make to file taxes, and the general rules for whether you have to file a federal tax return this year.

You can see all the details in IRS Publication 501.

Here's how much you have to make to file taxes

If you’re under 65, you probably have to file a tax return if your 2020 gross income was at least $12,200 as a single filer. If you use another filing status or you're over 65, you here's how much you have to make to file taxes this year.

Income requirements for filing a tax return

Under 65

65 and older

Single

$12,400

$14,050

Married, filing jointly

$24,800

  • $26,100.

  • $27,400 if both are 65 or older.

Head of household

$18,650

$20,300

Married, filing separately

$5

$5

Qualifying widow(er)

$24,800

$26,100

If someone can claim you as a dependent, the rules change. You have to file a tax return if any of the following apply.

Dependents who are single

Under 65

65 and older

65 and older and blind

Your unearned income was more than ...

$1,100

$2,750

$4,400

Your earned income was more than ...

$12,200

$13,850

$15,500

Your gross income was more than the larger of ...

  • $1,100, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $350.

  • $2,750, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $2,000.

  • $4,400, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $3,650.

Dependents who are married

Under 65

65 and older

65 and older and blind

Your unearned income was more than ...

$1,100

$2,400

$3,700

Your earned income was more than ...

$12,200

$13,500

$14,800

Your gross income was more than the larger of ...

  • $1,100, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $350.

  • $2,400, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $1,650.

  • $3,700, or

  • your earned income (up to $11,850), plus $2,950.

Note: You also must file a return if your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

If you fit any of the requirements, you have to file a tax return even if:

  • You are a minor.

  • You lived or earned money in another country.

  • You lived in Puerto Rico.

  • You had income from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands (but special rules apply; see IRS publication 570 for help).

Do I have to file taxes? Other situations that require filing a tax return

Regardless of income, you'll generally have to file a tax return if:

  • You had self-employment net earnings of at least $400.

  • You received distributions from a health savings account, Archer Medical Savings Account or Medicare Advantage MSA.

  • You owe taxes on an IRA, health savings account or other tax-favored account.

  • You owe taxes on household employees.

  • You made more than $108.28 from a church or church organization.

  • You owe recapture taxes.

  • You owe Social Security or Medicare tax on tips you didn’t report to your employer or that your employer didn’t already take out of your pay.

  • Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse or a dependent who got health coverage through the insurance marketplace.

  • Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse or a dependent who got health coverage through the insurance marketplace.

  • You owe uncollected Social Security, Medicare or railroad retirement tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts.

Don’t have to file a tax return? There’s a big reason you might want to do it anyway

You might qualify for a tax break that could generate a tax refund. So give filing some serious consideration if:

If you received a Form 1099-B (“Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions”), you might also consider filing a return if two things are true: Adding the number in box 1d to your other gross income puts you over the income threshold, and box 1e is blank. Filing a return in that case could keep you from getting a notice from the IRS.

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