Does a Dependent Child Who Works and Made Over $3,000 File Taxes?

  Reviewed by: Alicia Bodine, Certified Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach      Updated November 17, 2018
  Written by: Tara Thomas

One thing about the IRS is certain: if you earn income, regardless of your age or your dependency status, it is subject to taxation. If your dependent child works and makes more than $3,000 for the year, he probably will not owe taxes unless he reaches a certain filing threshold. However, just because your dependent isn’t required to file does not mean he shouldn’t. While the IRS does have minimum income thresholds before someone is required to file, if your dependent doesn’t file, he cannot receive the refund that may be waiting for him.


  • If your dependent child earns more than $3,000 for the year, she could be responsible for paying taxes, depending upon how much she earned.

Minimum Income To File Taxes

Every year, the IRS releases minimum income requirements that taxpayers must earn before they’re required to file taxes. These minimum income requirements vary by age, marital status and blindness. These IRS minimum income requirements, or thresholds, are adjusted for inflation and also vary depending upon if you can be claimed as a dependent or not. Dependents have different minimum income requirements than non-dependent taxpayers; however, these are much lower than almost all minimum filing requirements of those taxpayers who cannot be claimed as a dependent. In other words, if you are someone’s dependent, odds are you will reach the minimum income threshold before you must file – regardless of your filing status – sooner than non-dependent taxpayers.

Below are the 2017 minimum income requirements before your dependent child must file taxes.

Single Dependents

  • Under 65 and not blind – more than $6,350
  • 65 and older or blind – more than $7,900
  • Blind and 65 or older – more than $9,450

Married Dependents

  • Under 65 and not blind – more than $6,350
  • 65 and older or blind – more than $7,600
  • Blind and 65 or older – more than $8,850

As you can see, if you are a single dependent, you have to earn more than $6,350 in 2017 from all earned income sources combined before you must file taxes on those earnings. And if you made $3,000 you do not have to file taxes as this amount is clearly less than this minimum threshold. It is also worth noting that if your dependent’s income came from self-employment, then the IRS requires anyone earning more than $400 in a year to file taxes, regardless of filing or dependency status. Even though your child is not required to file taxes if he only earned $3,000 in a year, it could be in his best interest to do so. If your dependent child had any taxes withheld from his paycheck, he may be entitled to a refund.

Below are the 2018 minimum income requirements before your dependent child must file taxes.

Single Dependents

  • Under 65 – more than $12,000
  • 65 and older – more than $13,600

Married Dependents

  • Under 65 – more than $24,000
  • 65 and older – more than $26,600

The self-employment minimum of $400 still remains for 2018.

Filing Even if Your Dependent Isn’t Required To

Your dependent can file her own return to receive a refund of any federal income taxes withheld on her earnings. However, she must indicate on her IRS Form 1040 that she is eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return. Also, you cannot claim your dependent child’s income on your own tax return, and your dependent cannot claim a personal exemption for herself. But, you may be eligible to claim certain tax credits because of your dependent. For more information you can check out IRS Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents.

About the Author

Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid world traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach and spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article