Do I Need to File Taxes If I’m a Dependent?

 

You’ll need to file taxes if you’re a dependent on someone else’s tax return when you meet certain income criteria.

Before reviewing the criteria, here’s a quick overview of the types of income: 

  • Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and taxable scholarships and fellowship grants.
  • Unearned income includes taxable interest, dividends, capital gain distributions, unemployment compensation, and taxable social security benefits, pensions, and annuities. 
  • Gross income is the total of your earned and unearned income. 

Criteria for Filing Taxes as a Dependent in 2019

If you’re a single or married dependent under age 65, you need to file taxes if any of these are true: 

  • Unearned income more than $1,100
  • Earned income more than $12,200
  • Gross income more than $1,100 or earned income up to $11,850 — plus $350
  • Gross income of at least $5, and you had a spouse who filed a separate return and itemized deductions (if married)

If you’re a single dependent over age 65, you have to file taxes if any of these are true: 

  • Unearned income more than $2,750 ($4,400 if over 65 and blind)
  • Earned income more than $13,850 ($15,500 if over 65 and blind)
  • Gross income more than the larger of $2,750 (or $4,400 if over 65 and blind), or earned income (up to $11,850) plus $2,000 (or $3,650 if over age 65 and blind)

If you’re a married dependent over age 65, you need to file taxes if any of these are true: 

  • Unearned income more than $2,400 ($3,700 if over 65 and blind)
  • Earned income more than $13,500 ($14,800 if over 65 and blind)
  • Gross income of at least $5, and you had a spouse who filed a separate return and itemized deductions
  • Gross income more than the larger of $2,400 (or $3,700 if over 65 and blind), or earned income up to $11,850 plus $1,650 (or $2,950 if over 65 and blind)

Even if you don’t have to file taxes as dependent, you might want to. That way, you’ll get a refund of any state or federal tax you’ve had withheld.

Related Topics

Related Resources

Pennsylvania (PA) State Tax

Do you earn an income in Pennslyvania? If you answered yes, read on to find out more about how and when to pay your PA income tax.

General Business Credit – Form 3800

Learn more about the components of the general business tax credit and get tax answers at H&R Block.

Tax Implications of a Divorce Decree

Why should you follow your divorce decree when it comes to dependents? Learn how divorce may affect claiming dependents. Get tax answers at H&R Block.

Claiming a Dependent Relative on Taxes

Is your relative a qualifying dependent? Explore your options for claiming relatives on your taxes. Get tax answers from H&R Block.