Do I have to file state taxes?
Whether you have to file state taxes depends on a few factors. In some cases, you may not be required to file state taxes if you only lived in the state a short time or if your income is below a certain level. Each state has its own rules, so it’s good to review the details for where you live and work.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of situations that can help you determine if you are required to file state taxes. If you want to skip ahead to the rules for your state, you can find that list at the bottom of this page.
When do I have to file state taxes?
Not everyone has to file state taxes. Typically, the need to file is triggered if you live in a state (see below) and you meet certain criteria. Let’s review of few of those common situations.
- Filing a federal return – Many states will require you to file state taxes if you’re also required to file federal taxes.
- Having income over a threshold – In some states, you’ll only need to file if your income is above a certain threshold. This amount will vary state-by-state and can also vary by your filing status.
- Getting a refund – If you’ve had more state income taxes withheld from your paycheck than you owe, you could have a refund coming. However, the state won’t send you the refund automatically. You’ll need to file a return to receive it. In this situation, it may be worth it to file your state return even though it may not be a requirement.
- Claiming certain credits – If you’re eligible to claim certain refundable credits on your state tax return, you could get money back from the state. Similar to receiving a refund, you’ll first have to file your state taxes to claim the credit.
Are you required to file state taxes if you don’t live there?
If you lived in a state for an entire year, there’s no question about your residency status. But what if you moved during the year? Or, what if you were not a resident at all and you just have wage or other income from the state? Let’s go over a few scenarios when you have to file state taxes, possibly in more than one state.
- Moving from state to state – If you moved from one state to another during a tax year, you may have to file state taxes in both states. Some states base the filing requirement on a minimum number of days or months you spend in the state. In other states, moving there with the intent to stay permanently is enough to require that you file a state return, even if only for a few days. For example, you might wonder if you have to file state taxes in California if you only moved there permanently in late December. In this case, you’d be considered a resident and you’d need to file a return.
- Work in one state and live in another – Working across state lines can mean that you need to file two state returns, but it doesn’t mean that you are taxed twice. In some cases you might be able to take advantage of state income tax reciprocity, which can exempt income earned by nonresidents of neighboring states. In other cases, you might be able to receive a credit for taxes paid to the other state.
- State-based income sources – Earning income in a state can mean you have a filing requirement, even if you don’t live or work there. Examples of this could be rental income or investments such as a real estate investment trust or a partnership located in the state. Other types of income that may require filing a state return include lottery or gambling winnings or proceeds from the sale of property.
Note: These types of income are also sourced to your resident state regardless of where it’s earned. However, your resident state will generally allow a credit against state income tax for the income taxes paid to another state on the same income.
Which states don’t have income tax
If you live or work in one of the states below that don’t have income tax, you won’t need to worry about filing a state tax return for that state.
- South Dakota
Note: New Hampshire and Tennessee are two additional states with the lowest taxes — at 0% for income taxes on earned income, but they do tax dividend and interest income. That said, you may still need to file a state return for those two states.
Find details about when you have to file state taxes
Visit the revenue department websites for the state(s) where you live and work to find current details on when you are required to file state taxes. The states with no income tax are listed above and are not included here.
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