Do You Have to File Taxes If You Make Less Than $1000?

by Vicki A. Benge
If you're not experienced with filing taxes, it can pay to ask for help.

The Internal Revenue Service has specific filing requirements for federal taxpayers. For the majority of taxpayers, if you earn less than $1,000, you are not required to file federal taxes. Of course, as with many IRS rules, there are exceptions, and you might want to file even if you don’t have to. In addition, state income tax laws are different, and have different filing requirements.

Uncle Sam's Requirements

As of publication, single taxpayers under age 65 are not required to file federal taxes if their gross income is less than $10,000. If someone else can claim you as a dependent on his income taxes, then you must file if your gross income is $6,100 or more. If you earn more than $400 in net income from self-employment, then you must also file a federal tax return, or if you owe Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips that you did not report to your employer. You also must file if you earned more than $108.28 from a church or church organization. If you have unearned income, such as interest on savings or dividend from stocks, you have to file if it's more than $1,000.

Reasons to File Anyway

Even if you didn't make enough money to have to file taxes, you probably want to file anyway if taxes were withheld from your wages. In addition, low-income earners are eligible for the Earned Income Credit, which is additional money back. If you were a student or the parent of a dependent child in the previous tax year, it could also pay you to file, because there are special tax credits available that create a larger refund.

What State Do You Live In?

What state you live in determines whether you must file state income taxes if you make less than $1,000. If you happen to live in one of the nine states without a personal income tax as of publication -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming -- then you don't have to worry about it. In states with a personal income tax, the requirements can vary widely. For example, Arkansas full-year residents filing as single are required to file if they earn $11,412 or more. Conversely, Pennsylvania residents are required to file if they earn more than $33 in gross income.

Finding the Correct Answer

If you live in one of the forty-plus states that has a personal income tax, finding the correct and current information is important. State governments now have tax information online for their residents. Look for government websites, those that end with a ".gov" or ".us," and use search terms such as "department of revenue" or "department of finance" along with the name of your state. When you go to your state government's official website, you will be able to find what is legally required to comply with local tax laws.

About the Author

Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.

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