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.

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