If You Make Less Than $10000 Per Year, Do You Have to File Income Tax Returns?

by Tara Thomas ; Updated September 07, 2018
Not every person has to file an income tax return.

Income is only one factor that determines if you must file income tax returns or not. The IRS releases income minimum requirements that need to be reached before a person is required to file taxes. However, these annually released figures are not based on income alone. Depending upon your age, filing status and whether or not someone claims you on her taxes, you may find yourself having to file, even if you earn a lot less than $10,000 in a given year. And, while you might not be required to file, it’s not a bad idea to do so. You could be missing out on tax credits that can net you a refund check at tax time. With that in mind, if you have been asking yourself, "Will I get a tax refund if I made less than $10,000?", you are strongly encouraged to learn more about deductions and credits available to you.

Claiming Minimum IRS Income Requirements

Every year before tax time, the IRS takes inflation into account and announces new minimum income requirements that wage earners must reach before they’re required to file. The age you use for your filing status when file taxes in 2018 is the age you were at the end of 2017. Below you’ll find a list of the various filing statuses, and the corresponding minimum income requirements for filing 2017 taxes. These figures should help you answer the question, "If I make $10,000 a year how much tax will I pay?"


  • Under 65 years of age: $10,400
  • 65 years of age or older: $11,950

Head of Household

  • Under 65 years of age: $13,400
  • 65 years of age or older: $14,950

Married Filing Jointly

  • Under 65 years of age (both spouses): $20,800
  • 65 years of age or older (one spouse): $22,050
  • 65 years of age or older (both spouses): $23,300

Married Filing Separately

  • Any age: $4,050

Qualifying Widow/er

  • Under 65 years of age: $16,750
  • 65 years of age or older: $18,000

As you can see, it is entirely possible to earn more than $10,000 per year and not have to file taxes, unless you’re married filing separately. But, you may be missing out on tax credits that could result in a refund. It is important to note that self-employed filers, such as freelancers or independent contractors, will need to file taxes if their gross income exceeds more than $400 in any given year.

Deductions and Income Requirements

As far as the IRS is concerned, if you earn income, then it’s subject to taxation, regardless of your age. The decision to file taxes for dependents is often a confusing one for parents of children and caretakers of adult dependents. For dependents, the IRS has specific, yet different, rules for minimum income requirements. Although dependents can’t claim themselves as an exemption on their own returns for the same year they're being claimed on another person’s return, this does not mean they do not have to file taxes on income they receive. Dependents must report all income – both earned and unearned – on their personal tax returns. Earned income typically comes from wages earned in the course of working a job, while the latter income often comes in the form of dividends, capital gains or interest from investments.

A single filer has a minimum income requirement of $10,400 for 2017, but dependents who need to file taxes on their earnings have a much lower income requirement. For 2017, your child or adult dependent claimed on your taxes, can earn no more than $6,300 in earned income before he needs to file his own personal return. The figure for unearned income is a lot lower. If your dependent is under age 65, then the amount of unearned income she can make before needing to file taxes is $1,050. When the combined earned and unearned incomes total more than $6,300, then she is required to file.

Keep in mind that valuable credits, such as the child tax credit 2017, will only become available once you have decided to file your taxes.

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Filing Your Return

You can use IRS Form 1040 in order to document your adjusted gross income alongside any and all qualifying deductions and exemptions.

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.

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