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

by Tara Thomas ; Updated March 15, 2018

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 over $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.

2017 IRS Minimum Income Requirements

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 $3,000 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.

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.

About the Author

Tara Thomas has been a writer and traveler since 1997. Her articles appear in various online publications. She also has experience authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory, which helped her develop a lifelong interest in environmentalism. Thomas is an event planner, has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, and worked as a mortgage consultant since 1998.

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