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