Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Each year, the IRS processes roughly 150 million individual tax returns. Yours may be one of them—if you have to file a tax return.
Not everyone has to file a tax return, and whether you need to file depends on your age, filing status, income level, and the source of that income.
Here’s what you need to know about filing a federal tax return in 2022 and why you might want to file a return even if the IRS doesn’t require it.
Featured Partner Offers
Federal Filing Fee
State Filing Fee
On intuit's Website
Federal Filing Fee
25% discount applied. Offer is valid for a limited time on federal tax returns, e-filed by 4/18/23, at 11:59 p.m. EDT
State Filing Fee
On TaxSlayer's Website
Cash App Taxes
Federal Filing Fee
State Filing Fee
On Cash App Taxes' Website
Who Needs to File a Federal Tax Return for the 2022 Tax Season?
Yearly, the IRS publishes a table with the filing requirements for people who aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return. Here are those numbers from the Draft 2021 Form 1040 Instructions:
|Filing Status||Age as of 12/31/2021||File a Return if Your Gross Income was at Least:|
|Single||65 or older||$14,250|
|Married filing jointly||Under 65 (both spouses)||$25,100|
|Married filing jointly||65 or older (one spouse)||$26,450|
|Married filing jointly||65 or older (both spouses)||$27,800|
|Married filing separately||Any age||$5|
|Head of household||Under 65||$18,800|
|Head of household||65 or older||$20,500|
|Qualifying widow(er)||Under 65||$25,100|
|Qualifying widow(er)||65 or older||$26,450|
If your 2021 gross income exceeds the amount shown in the table above, you must file a federal income tax return. The IRS defines gross income as all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property and services, including income from outside the U.S., sale of stock, a business, and the sale of your home, even if the gain isn’t taxable.
There are also a few situations in which you must file a tax return even if you don’t meet the income requirements outlined above, including,
- You owe special taxes, such as the alternative minimum tax, a penalty from an early withdrawal from an IRA or 401(k), household employment taxes, Social Security or Medicare taxes on tips
- You (or your spouse) withdrew money from a health savings account
- You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400
You can review the full list of situations in which you must file a tax return no matter your income level in Chart C (Page 12) of the IRS Form 1040 Instructions.
Filing Requirements for Dependents
The IRS has different tax filing requirements for people claimed as dependents on another person’s return. For dependents, filing status and age are factors, but so is the type of income received, whether earned or unearned.
- Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and taxable scholarships and fellowship grants.
- Unearned income includes taxable interest, ordinary dividends, capital gain distributions, unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, and distributions from a trust.
Read more: Your Social Security May Be Taxable. Here’s What You Need To Know
Here are the minimum income limits from the Draft 2021 Form 1040 Instructions:
|Filing Status||Age as of 12/31/2021||File a Return if Your Gross Income was at Least:|
|Single||Under 65 and not blind|
|Single||65 or older or under 65 and blind|
|Single||Age 65 or older and blind|
|Married filing a joint return||Under 65 and not blind|
|Married filing a joint return||65 or older or under age 65 and blind|
|Married filing a joint return||Age 65 or older and blind|
|Married filing separately||Gross income of at least $5 and your spouse files a return and itemizes deductions|
Dependent children can avoid filing a tax return if they have only interest and dividend income and a parent elects to report the child’s income on their own return. To make this election, you have to meet all of the following requirements:
- The dependent child is under age 19 (or under age 24 and a full-time student) at the end of the year
- The child’s income consisted only of interest, dividends, and capital gain distributions
- Their interest and dividend income was less than $11,000
- The child doesn’t file a joint return with a spouse
- The child didn’t make estimated tax payments, have federal income tax withheld, or have an overpayment applied from a prior-year tax return
- You, your spouse, or dependent received an advance payment of the premium tax credit when you purchased health insurance coverage via HealthCare.gov.
If you meet all the requirements outlined above, you’ll report the child’s income on Form 8814 and file it with your Form 1040.
Why You Might Want to File a Federal Income Tax Return Anyway
You might not be required to file a tax return in some cases, but it could be beneficial to file one anyway. Here are some situations where that could be the case:
You Can Get a Refund of Withheld or Estimated Taxes
If your employer withheld federal income taxes from your pay or you made estimated tax payments, filing a tax return may allow you to receive some or all of those overpayments back in the form of a tax refund.
Keep in mind, if you regularly file a tax return just to get a refund of the tax your employer withheld, you might want to decrease your withholding.
File a new Form W-4 with your employer to reduce your withholding and increase your take-home pay, and you won’t have to worry about filing a return unnecessarily.
You Can Claim Refundable Tax Credits
Refundable tax credits are particularly valuable for low-income taxpayers because they can provide a refund beyond what you paid for the year via withholding or estimated tax payments.
In other words, if it’s worth more than the tax you owe, the IRS will issue you a refund for the difference. Refundable credits include:
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a tax credit for lower-income working people. For 2021, it’s worth up to $6,728, but you must meet strict income limits and other requirements to qualify. The income limits change each year and depend on your filing status and how many dependents you can claim. You can’t claim the credit if you have more than $10,000 of investment income. Review the IRS’s table of maximum adjusted gross income (AGI) amounts and credit amounts for 2021 to learn more.
- Child Tax Credit (CTC). The CTC is designed to help low- and moderate-income families offset the cost of raising kids. For 2021, it’s worth up to $3,600 for each child under age six and up to $3,000 per child age six through 17.
- Recovery Rebate Credit. If you didn’t receive a third Economic Impact Payment, also known as a stimulus payment, or didn’t get the full amount, you may be able to take it as a tax credit on your 2021 tax return. The third stimulus check, which the IRS started sending out in March 2021, was actually an advance payment of a 2021 tax credit.
- American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC helps offset higher education costs for full-time students in their first four years of college. It’s worth up to $2,500 per qualifying student, and up to $1,000 of the credit is refundable.
You Can Start the Clock on the Statute of Limitations
The IRS generally has three years from the date you filed to audit your tax return—six years if your return includes a “substantial understatement” of income. But if you don’t file a tax return, the clock on that statute of limitations never starts running. In effect, the IRS could come after you in a decade or more and claim that you should have filed a return.
If you’re worried about an IRS audit, you may want to file a tax return even if you didn’t earn enough to trigger a filing requirement.
Don’t Forget About State Returns
The filing requirements outlined above apply to federal income tax returns, but if you live in a state with a state-level income tax, you may also need to file there.
Filing requirements vary by state, so check with a tax professional or your state’s tax agency to figure out whether you need to file a state return.
Compare the best tax software of 2023
See our picks
Do you want to file your taxes?
Check out our best tax softwares of 2023
See our picks
Not everyone is required to file their taxes. Whether you need to file your taxes depends on four factors: your income, filing status, age, and whether you fall under a special circumstance. Even if you aren't required to file taxes, you may want to file for tax credits and other benefits.How do I know if I made enough to file taxes? ›
The minimum income amount depends on your filing status and age. In 2022, for example, the minimum for single filing status if under age 65 is $12,950. If your income is below that threshold, you generally do not need to file a federal tax return.Do seniors on Social Security have to file taxes? ›
Some of you have to pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return).What is the minimum income to file taxes in 2022 as a dependent? ›
The minimum income requiring a dependent to file a federal tax return. 2022 filing requirements for dependents under 65: Earned income of at least $12,950, or unearned income (like from investments or trusts) of at least $1,150.Who is not required to file a return? ›
Under age 65. Single. Don't have any special circumstances that require you to file (like self-employment income) Earn less than $12,950 (which is the 2022 standard deduction for a single taxpayer)Who is not required to file income tax return? ›
NRI or not, any individual whose income exceeds Rs 2.5 lakh (for FY 2020-21) is required to file an income tax return in India. The limit is the same for all individuals. There is no higher threshold limit for senior or super-senior citizens.Does Social Security count as income? ›
You must pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits if you file a: Federal tax return as an “individual” and your “combined income” exceeds $25,000. Joint return, and you and your spouse have “combined income” of more than $32,000.Do I have to file taxes if I have very little income? ›
Any year you have minimal or no income, you may be able to skip filing your tax return and the related paperwork. However, it's perfectly legal to file a tax return showing zero income, and this might be a good idea for a number of reasons.How much trouble can you get in for not filing taxes? ›
Tax evasion in California is punishable by up to one year in county jail or state prison, as well as fines of up to $20,000. The state can also require you to pay your back taxes, and it will place a lien on your property as a security until you pay. If you cannot pay what you owe, the state will seize your property.How much money can seniors make and not file taxes? ›
For retirees 65 and older, here's when you can stop filing taxes: Single retirees who earn less than $14,250. Married retirees filing jointly, who earn less than $26,450 if one spouse is 65 or older or who earn less than $27,800 if both spouses are age 65 or older.
There is no specific age when seniors are no longer required to file a tax return. If a senior's only source of income is social security, they can stop filing tax returns. For seniors with income in addition to social security, their taxable income determines whether they need to file a return.What seniors are not required to file taxes? ›
In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year. However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable.Do I have to file taxes if my parents claim me as a dependent? ›
If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, they claim certain tax benefits associated with having a dependent. As a dependent, you do not qualify to claim those tax benefits. However, you may still need to file a tax return if you have income.Do I have to file taxes if I made less than $5000? ›
—You must make a Long-form Return on Form 1040 if your income was $5,000 or more or if you claim deductions amounting to more than 10 percent of your income.Can I claim head of household with no dependents? ›
Answer: Generally, to qualify for head of household filing status, you must have a qualifying child or a dependent. However, a custodial parent may be eligible to claim head of household filing status based on a child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.What is the minimum income for IT returns? ›
It is mandatory to file ITR for individuals If the gross total income is over Rs.3,00,000 in a financial year. This limit exceeds Rs.3,00,000 for senior citizens and Rs.5,00,000 for super senior citizens. The entities listed below are required to pay tax and file their income tax returns.How much money can you have in the bank on Social Security retirement? ›
The monthly limit is $1,350 in 2022 for non-blind individuals and $2,260 for individuals qualifying for benefits as statutorily blind, so it is a good idea to keep records of the source of deposits that you make into your bank account.How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›
Who is eligible for Social Security bonus? For every year that you delay claiming past full retirement age, your monthly benefits will get an 8% “bonus.” That amounts to a whopping 24% if you wait to file until age 70.At what age can you earn unlimited income on Social Security? ›
If you will reach full retirement age in 2023, the limit on your earnings for the months before full retirement age is $56,520. Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you can get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.What happens if you don t file your taxes but don t owe anything? ›
There's no penalty for failure to file if you're due a refund. However, you risk losing a refund altogether if you file a return or otherwise claim a refund after the statute of limitations has expired.
A stay-at-home mom can file taxes just like any citizen or permanent resident who works in the united states. If you made more than a certain amount of money during the year, then it's your responsibility to file taxes. Nowadays, stay-at-home moms can earn extra income in many ways.Can I file my taxes if I didn't work but have a child? ›
Can you file taxes with no income but have a child or dependent? If you have no income but have a child/dependent, you can still file your taxes. This may allow you to get a refund if the tax credits you're eligible for are more than your income.Will I get caught not filing taxes? ›
The IRS typically won't look much further than six years for enforcement of unfiled taxes, according to IRS Mind. However, it's important to note that if you don't file taxes, the IRS will likely catch up to you within three years of your missed tax filing deadline.Can the IRS penalize you for not filing taxes? ›
See Topic No. 202 for information about payment options. If you owe tax and don't file on time, there's also a penalty for not filing on time. The failure-to-file penalty is usually five percent of the tax owed for each month, or part of a month that your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.Is Social Security taxed after age 70? ›
Yes, Social Security is taxed federally after the age of 70. If you get a Social Security check, it will always be part of your taxable income, regardless of your age. There is some variation at the state level, though, so make sure to check the laws for the state where you live.What are the 3 states that don't tax retirement income? ›
Fortunately, there are some states that don't charge taxes on retirement income of any kind: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.What states do not tax Social Security income? ›
- New Hampshire.
- South Dakota.
- It makes loan processing easier. ...
- It helps you claim any carried forward losses. ...
- It allows you to claim TDS refunds. ...
- It contributes to nation-building. ...
- It will help you with visa or credit card applications.
- You owe tax or want to receive a refund. ...
- Recover any tax you overpaid from your pay cheque. ...
- Take advantage of refundable tax credits. ...
- Create contribution room in an RRSP.
- Photo ID.
- Social Security Cards, Social Security Number verification letters, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number assignment letters for you, your spouse, and any dependents.
- Birth dates for you, your spouse, and dependents on the tax return.
The penalty for failing to file represents 5% of your unpaid tax liability for each month your return is late, up to 25% of your total unpaid taxes. If you're due a refund, there's no penalty for failure to file. Though, you do lose the chance of getting that refund.Why would you want to file a tax return if you don't need to? ›
Reasons To File a 2022 Tax Return Anyway. Even if you're not required to do it, there are many reasons you should still file a 2022 tax return in 2023. For starters, if you had taxes withheld from your paycheck or paid estimated taxes, you may want to file to obtain a refund.At what age can you stop filing taxes? ›
There is no specific age when seniors are no longer required to file a tax return. If a senior's only source of income is social security, they can stop filing tax returns. For seniors with income in addition to social security, their taxable income determines whether they need to file a return.Do you have to pay income tax after age 70? ›
In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year. However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable.What is the IRS minimum filing requirement? ›
Tax Year 2022 Filing Thresholds by Filing Status
Self-employed individuals are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly if they had net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more. Status as a dependent. A person who is claimed as a dependent may still have to file a return.
In the year you reach full retirement age, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. In 2023, this limit on your earnings is $56,520.How much money can you make before you have to pay taxes? ›
Not everyone is required to file or pay taxes. Depending on your age, filing status, and dependents, for the 2022 tax year, the gross income threshold for filing taxes is between $12,550 and $28,500. If you have self-employment income, you're required to report your income and file taxes if you make $400 or more.What happens if you don't file taxes but don't owe? ›
There's no penalty for failure to file if you're due a refund. However, you risk losing a refund altogether if you file a return or otherwise claim a refund after the statute of limitations has expired.Do you need to file taxes if you don't owe? ›
The IRS has general filing requirements for most taxpayers. Even if no tax is owed, most people file a return if their gross income is more than the automatic deductions for the year. The primary automatic deduction is the the standard deduction. Its amount will depend on your filing status and age.