U.S. taxes for Individuals

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, whether you must file a return depends on three factors:

Your gross income,

Your filing status, and

Your age.

Gross income. This includes all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. It also includes income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude all or part of it).

You were married, filing a separate return, and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2014; or

Half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly).

Community income. If you are married and your permanent home is in a community property state, half of any income described by state law as community income may be considered yours. This affects your federal taxes, including whether you must file if you do not file a joint return with your spouse.

Filing status. Your filing status depends on whether you are single or married and on your family situation. Your filing status is determined on the last day of your tax year, which is December 31 for most taxpayers.

Age. If you are 65 or older at the end of the year, you generally can have a higher amount of gross income than other taxpayers before you must file.

You must file a final return for a decedent (a person who died) if both of the following are true.

  • You are the surviving spouse, executor, administrator, or legal representative
  • The decedent met the filing requirements at the date of death.

To determine whether you must file a return, include in your gross income any income you received abroad, including any income you can exclude under the foreign earned income exclusion.

Generally, a child is responsible for filing his or her own tax return and for paying any tax on the return. If a dependent child must file an income tax return but cannot file due to age or any other reason, then a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child.

If a child’s only income is interest and dividends (including capital gain distributions and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends), the child was under age 19 at the end of 2014 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2014, and certain other conditions are met, a parent can elect to include the child’s income on the parent’s return.

If you are a resident alien for the entire year, you must file a tax return following the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens. Use the forms discussed in this publication.

If you are a nonresident alien, the rules and tax forms that apply to you are different from those that apply to U.S. citizens and resident aliens.

If you are a resident alien for part of the tax year and a nonresident alien for the rest of the year, you are a dual-status taxpayer. Different rules apply for each part of the year.

Even if you do not have to file, you should file a federal income tax return to get money back if any of the following conditions apply

  1. You had federal income tax withheld or made estimated tax payments.
  2. You qualify for the earned income credit.
  3. You qualify for the additional child tax credit.
  4. You qualify for the premium tax credit.
  5. You qualify for the American opportunity credit.
  6. You qualify for the credit for federal tax on fuels.
IF your filing status is… AND at the end of 2014 you
were…*
THEN file a return if
your gross income
was at least…**
single under 65 $10,150
65 or older $11,700
married filing jointly*** under 65 (both spouses) $20,300
65 or older (one spouse) $21,500
65 or older (both spouses) $22,700
married filing separately any age $3,950
head of household under 65 $13,050
65 or older $14,600
qualifying widow(er) with dependent child under 65 $16,350
65 or older $17,550
* If you were born on January 1, 1950, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2014. (If your spouse died in 2014 or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2014
** Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Do not include any social security benefits unless (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2014 or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040 or 1040A or Publication 915 to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income
*** If you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2014 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $3,950, you must file a return regardless of your age.
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