Age & Income Requirements for Filing Federal Taxes

by Rebecca K. McDowell ; Updated August 02, 2018
Who needs to file an income tax return?

Most U.S. residents are required by law to file federal income tax returns, however, certain individuals are exempt from filing tax returns. The minimum income to file taxes depends upon your age and the type of income you receive.

IRS Filing Requirements Based on Age and Income

The United States Tax Code provides that all individuals who are either U.S. citizens or resident aliens must file a tax return, with exceptions for individuals with gross income of a certain amount. In prior years, your age made a difference, however, with the new tax law, beginning in the 2018 tax year, your age does not affect your filing requirements.

Tax Law Changes

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law in December 2017, the tax code changed in a number of ways that are applicable for the 2018 tax year. One of these changes is that if you have gross income for the 2018 tax year, you must file a tax return regardless of income if you're head of household, widowed or married filing single. The minimum amount to file taxes has increased for single individuals and individuals who are married filing jointly.

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IRS Filing Requirements for 2018

You must file a return for the 2018 tax year if, at the end of 2018:

  • You're single and your gross income is less than $12,000; or
  • You're married filing jointly and your gross income together is less than $24,000.

There is no longer an exception for heads of household, widowers or married people filing single. The taxpayer's age as no effect on whether he must file taxes.

IRS Filing Requirements for 2017

For the 2017 tax year, the filing requirements are a little more varied, and you must file a tax return for 2017 if:

  • You're single and you were under 65 at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $10,400;
  • You're single and you were 65 or older at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $11,950;  
  • You file as head of household and you were under 65 at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $13,400;  
  • You file as head of household and you were 65 or older at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $14,950;
  • You're married, filing jointly, and you and your spouse were both under 65 at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $20,800;
  • You're married, filing jointly, and either you or your spouse (but not both) were 65 or older at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $22,070;
  • You're married, filing jointly, and you and your spouse were both 65 or older at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $23,300;  
  • You're married, filing separately, and your gross income was over at least $4,050; 
  • You were a qualifying widower who was under age 65 at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $16,750; or
  • You were a qualifying widower who was 65 or older at the end of 2017, and your gross income was at least $18,000.

About the Author

Rebecca K. McDowell is an attorney focused on debts and finance. She has a B.A. in English and a J.D.

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