How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

(Updated 3/25/2013)
How much money do you have to make to file taxes?… What is the minimum income to file taxes?…

These types of common tax questions have been asked over & over again on forums and message boards all across the web.

It’s a Good Question with Multiple Answers. Read on...

The requirements will vary depending on 3 Major Factors: Your Age, Filing Status, and Type of Income You Receive. For example: At the end of 2012, if you were single and under 65 and earned a gross income of least 9,750, then you need to file. And at the end of 2012, if you were single and over 65 and had a gross income of at least 11,200, then you need to file.

These filing requirement variations can go on & on all day long. Again, it all depends on the 3 Major factors of Age, Filing Status and Income Type Received. IRS 1040 Manual gives further details concerning the question of “How much money do you have to make to file taxes?” (Once there if you scroll down about an inch you will see a chart that breaks different scenarios down for you.)

Or view the chart below which is a quick summary for the 2012 Tax Year highlighting the Tax Filing Requirements for most people:

(chart age reference means under 65 or 65+ – at the end of 2012)

tax-filing-requirement-2012

NOTE: This is the latest info that I’ve found. Tax laws change like the wind which is why it’s always best to consult with your personal accountant or tax professional. This article is for informational purposes only.

NOTE 2: You’re also required to file if you had net earnings i.e., after expenses in self-employment income of at least $400. Refer to my List of Business Tax Deductions to discover multiple ways to minimize your business tax liability.

Are you SURE you’re an employee???

You may think that you’re an employee BUT you could actually be an independent contractor (self-employed individual) and not even realize it!

Well I’ve got news for you…

If your job surprising doesn’t take any taxes out your check – and you receive a 1099 rather than a W2 during tax season — Then YOU my friend are considered a self-employed individual in the eyes of the Government, and YOU are responsible for paying personal taxes and subject to self-employment tax as well.

Many employers have been “hiring” people like this in order to avoid the expenses of hiring “real employees” while still maintaining complete control over you as an employee – even though you’re not. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Now I’m not trying to get you all revved-up about your job because we all need to keep food on the table — but hey that’s the real scoop!

Forms

As an employee, you should receive W2 forms that reports your earnings for the year. If you were an independent contractor then you should receive a 1099 form. If you were both, then expect to get both. When you file, in order to maximize your return and lessen the amount of taxes that you owe, be sure to deduct as many legitimate items as possible. Consult with with your accountant or tax professional for best results.

Deadline

April 15th is the deadline for filing your Federal individual income tax return. If you miss this date you can request an extension. But I advise you to do everything in your power NOT to miss the deadline. Just get this tax stuff out the way to avoid extra hassle, fees and delay.

Filing When You Don’t Have To

Filing even when you don’t have to is not a bad idea. It could turn out to be very beneficial for you! If you’ve earned any Federal Income or Earned Income Credit (EIC), it is recommended that you file anyway – because you may be able to get a return. You definitely don’t want to leave money on the table now do you?…didn’t think so.

The IRS puts it like this: “Refund. Even if you do not have to file a tax return, you should file to get a refund if box 2 shows federal income tax withheld or if you can take the earned income credit…” See this W2 example and once there just scroll down past the form for details. If you don’t take time to enlighten yourself about this tax stuff, Uncle Sam definitely won’t chase you down to give you your money. And they make that very clear in their own words.

Free Vs. Paid Tax Assistance

If you just can’t afford to hire a Tax professional to work on your behalf, there are a few places you may be able to get them done absolutely free. You can check your local government offices or do a “free tax” search online. However, I don’t trust or recommend them.

Completely free tax route should be last resort in my opinion. It’s like getting a Public Defender to defend you in a legal case. Who do you think will work harder for YOU: A Free Public Defender hired by the State/Government – Or – Your own Personal Attorney hired by YOU to work specifically in your best interest?nuff said.

See, it’s the same with taxes. Keep in mind: The Government is not in the business of giving away money. They want to keep every penny they can possibly get ~ You Can Bank On That!

I’d much rather file through an independent tax service like TurboTax (which does offer a free version for simple tax returns) rather than trusting some government program. But hey that’s just me!

Final Word From Me…

Ok now move your head a little closer to the screen and listen v e r r r y closely, I’m only going to say this once!

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THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT REFUND ANY MONEY OWED TO YOU IF YOU FAIL TO FILE. THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU. THEY WILL JUST KEEP YOUR MONEY. THEY ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF PAYING OUT MONEY VOLUNTARILY.

THERE ARE BILLIONS OF UNCLAIMED FUNDS SITTING INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT BANK VAULT RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK — COLLECTING BIG FAT INTEREST FOR THEM. YOU MUST CLAIM YOUR MONEY TO GET IT. IF YOU DON’T, THEN THEY CONSIDER IT FAIR GAME TO KEEP IT.

DON’T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE — DON’T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE. And did I Mention → DO NOT LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE!!!

===============================================================

Ok there!… and I meant to Yell. Are your ears buzzing?… GOOD:-) Now at least I know these words will ring in your ears every time you think the thought “oh I don’t need to file taxes”. Now at least when you think about how much money do you have to make to file taxes you’ll think twice…because now you know you just might have money waiting for you!

Comments

  1. DarleneMarie says

    Valuable information Multi – I thought as a contractor, you have to make more than $600 per year to claim it.

    • Multima$tery says

      Yeah Darlene that’s what I thought too until I did thorough research.  And by they way… that’s for net earnings of at least $400 per year i.e. after you deduct expenses.  That’s why it’s good to deduct Every Single Deduction the Law Allows in business AND personal situations.  That lowers your overall tax liability!-)

    • Multima$tery says

      Thanks for visiting Brenda.  Without knowing your full financial situation I can’t answer that question for you.  I’d suggest that you consult with your account or tax professional.  Or you can do as I do and use TurboTax.com which will walk you through everything, guiding you through every deduction possible under tax law.  This system will guide you through all steps at No Cost.  Then at the end if you like the numbers you see and want to proceed with filing your taxes through TurboTax, you’ll have the option to become a Full customer at that time. Best Wishes for a profitable tax return!

    • Multima$tery says

      Well Anthony you could’ve gotten it from anywhere, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there — which is why I make sure I do thorough research before publish a thing!

  2. rrram2 says

    Well this is a deep subject.  And it is a matter of fact (though the IRS won’t admit this) that the income tax is based on VOLUNTARY compliance, and really is voluntary.
    Witholding is also a sham.  Witholding is a forced loan from you to the IRS based upon the premise that you WILL owe a tax.
    While I am not a tax attorney, I can assure you that for the last 7 years the IRS owed me a refund!  I also expect them to owe me a refund this year as well and every year for the rest of my life….SO that is why I voluntarily participate in their voluntary income tax sceme.
    And here is the secret, I didn’t even realize that I learned this from my parents all my life growing up.  You must live your life in a manner in which you are able to AVOID taxes.  I guess I learned this and didnt even know it, I naturally live my life in a way in which I am always entitled to a refund!  I am not talking hundreds here but thousands per year!

    • Multima$tery says

      Hats off to you!  It’s all about getting refunds (or at least lowering tax liability as much as possible) by practicing Strict Money Management and keeping meticulous records and receipts.  I can’t recall the last time I Didn’t get a refund!

  3. surviveprison says

    Great post – here is a little bit more info and sort of one of my peeves:
    Why give the government an interest free loan every year? They aren’t going to give you one! Watch your payroll taxes -adjust during the course of the year the amount of deductions you have. If I get back $10 I am happy – If I have to pay $10 I am happy. I know that I brought home more money last year and was able to bank it in savings at least drawing some interest.
    For some weird reason people like to get money back at the end of the year – weird – try this – take the money you desperately need now and give it to someone you don’t know – make them promise to give it back to you next year… stupid.
    Go check out http://www.Fairtax.org – the system where we pay a tax on goods and services only. This should bring back more jobs as employers won’t have to incur the cost of going dollar for dollar with
    payroll taxes – don’t even get me started on Social Security (Americas Largest Ponzi Scheme)

  4. Erick Smart says

    For some they will want to file taxes even if they did not make enough to have to. These are usually single moms who are barely scrapping by and having children qualifies them for EIC.

  5. Jewl says

    The only income we have is my husbands Social Security disability which is $850.00 a month. We have five children. Should we file? Would be get anything back? Thanks Jewl

    • Multima$tery says

      Well it really depends on a lot of different variables as you can see in this hub. And situations may vary. But if you say $850 per month that averages out to a little over 10,000 per year. So you Might qualify for some type of low income credit or maybe even a stimulus check for social security recipients. But I’m not absolutely sure. What I’d suggest is that you plug the numbers into TurboTax and see what it comes up with – see if it’s worth filing. This way all guesswork will be eliminated. They offer a free Federal edition for all simple tax situations, yours sounds like it may fall under in this category.
      Best Wishes to You and Yours $-)

  6. cindy says

    if my only source of income this year was $4500 from an IRA, do I need to file? I checked out turbotax and it said I will owe the feds 10%, can’t give em what I don’t have. Do you know of the dollar amount limit that mandates a person must file?

    • Multima$tery says

      First review all the numbers you input carely and see if you come up with same thing.
      Also, Check the first link on this page -1040pdf- and scroll down to page 7 also look at the chart under it. There’s a lot of details and variables involved with IRA that makes it a very unique tax situation. From my guess sounds like this tax was possibly a result of an early withdrawal tax.
      Here’s what the IRS says: “Withdrawals made prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10% additional tax. You also may owe an excise tax if you do not begin to withdraw minimum distributions by April 1st of the year after you reach age 70 1/2. These additional taxes are figured…
      http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc451.html

  7. 2GrowinBoys says

    I’m wondering if we need to claim a portion of our income this year. I am not sure what constitutes as “sub-contractor” – as you mentioned in your article. We have no legal business name, no tax ID#, etc.
    My hubby (age 32) does some extra work for some “friends” and they pay him by check monthly. Total income this year was $2540 with a $420 (grand total $2120) worth of deductions. We are filing married/jointly (however I stay at home with 2 kids with no additional income). I am not sure if we need to claim this on this years return. We did not receive a 1099 or a W2 – as I honestly don’t believe they (either non profit org or not for profit org) report on this. Also, our overall income this year on his hourly job was about 30K.
    What are your suggestions? Are there limits to income that you HAVE to report – or is there just a suggested limit? Is this one of those “babysitting” moments that’s not worth reporting based on our tax bracket, etc.
    Thanks, in advance!

    • Multima$tery says

      Well a lot of people haven’t received their W2s or 1099s yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming. And if he earned $2540 and this company took out taxes – then forms should be on the way.  If you all don’t wanna wait I’d suggest contacting them to find out if they sent it out (or sent it to the right address).  Believe me you don’t want to file without having ALL your tax forms.  This happened to me once and you’ll just run into complications and possible late-fee penalties.  So check the source to see if they sent it out.

  8. MoneyMakerGuy says

    I have also come accross this type of question like how much required for me to file tax file. I have gone through all others artilce on this topic but no where I could find information as you have discussed here. Very great article as well as informative and your guide is very suggestive and accurate. Thanks for this great hub. I think you already being rewarded for your hard work you put here. Congratulation on your success. With Blessing. Money Maker Guy.

  9. BkCreative says

    I’ve used Turbo Tax before and have been 100% satisfied!
    True the government will never come after you to say they have money for you – which is why it’s important to remember that if you get an email that looks like the IRS – it is not. They would never email you for your info online – and never to tell you a refund is waiting. This is an annual scam.
    Thanks for this info!

    • Multima$tery says

      Yeah TurboTax has worked great for me too! And Thanks for pointing out that Scam Issue; this is definitely something that people need to Beware of.

  10. Ike says

    I registered a company, but I have never used the name for any business and have’nt made any income with the company, should I still file taxes?

    • Multima$tery says

      Ike if it’s just a name and haven’t even started doing business with it (and earned no income whatsoever) then there’s really nothing to worry as far as I know because there’s no income there. Now Whenever you do finally put your business into action, be sure to go back and deduct the cost of the name (if any) as a business start-up expense.

  11. Cash Tracks says

    Good information for everybody to keep in mind. Consumer tax software is good but sometimes you can get the same service online for a lower cost. If you decide to go a tax preparer, look for either an Enrolled Agent or a CPA. Both are licensed and will do your taxes right the first time.

    • Multima$tery says

      Hi Carol this sounds like a part-time salary which qualifies as taxable income to me. I’d check more into this if I were you. Is this your own business – or are you employed by them?

  12. Yumiko says

    I may receive both W2 and 1099 as an independent contractor, can I file it through online turbo tax? Would you tell me how it works please? is it free? Are there any other softwares that may help? I can’t afford to hire a tax consultant. Thanks

  13. Multima$tery says

    @Yukimo… Yes you can file both W2 and 1099 through TurboTax; I’ve done this before with no problem. The software walks you through every step of the way and alerts you of every deduction possible. They do offer a completely free federal version and they have paid plans as well (visit link for details). Whichever plan you go with it’s always free to get started and you don’t pay unless you like the numbers. There are other tax softwares on the market but I like TurboTax the most because it has helped me find the most deductions and they have a great reputation.

    @Rob… Sounds shady to me. And if you’re not careful it can all come back and bit you in the You Know What! I’d question him about this; it’s your right to, just let him know you’re concerned about your taxes and like to know how they’re handled on your behalf. Do you know if you are considered to be an actual employee, or independent contractor with this company?

    • Multima$tery says

      Hi Jessica being that you have a small child, and from what you’ve stated here, low income – you may qualify for a tax return. If I were you I’d definitely check for sure.

  14. daveo says

    Hi i earned just over 2200 dollars working a summer job last summer and just got my w-2s today. I was wondering if it would be a good decision and if I could posibbly get a return at all if I filed.

    • Multima$tery says

      Hello Daveo If this is really all the income you’ve earned, it is very possible to get a refund from all the taxes that may have been deducted from your check.

  15. tawania says

    ive earned 7546.78 in wages am head of house hold with 2 dependants but only 38.75 was take out for fedral income tax withheld do i still qualify for these tax credits

    • Multima$tery says

      Hi Tawania sounds like perhaps you received partial earned income credit (EIC) throughout the year – which lowered the amount of taxes taken from your check. This could be the case amongst other things. Either way, I’d recommend checking about EIC. You might have some money coming for that. Also you might want to check about Child Tax Credit (all of this is assuming your dependents are qualifying children). Check with your account/tax professional about this – or plug the numbers into TurboTax or other reliable software to determine for sure.

  16. Amy says

    If I am self employed, and I pay an independent contractor to do some work for me, do I have to claim that expense on my taxes?

    • Multima$tery says

      According to the IRS if you paid an independent contractor (or other non-employee) $600 or more during the year, you need to file Form 1099-MISC. You also need to provide a copy to the contractor.

  17. Tommy says

    Hi my name is Tommy ive made over 42000.00 this year paid no taxes but ive got nearly 35000.00 in tax write off thnxs to my 1099 status what do u think is uncle sam gonna use vasoline or nutthing i think itz gonna hurt.

    • Multima$tery says

      Hey Tommy if you have reported legitimate deductions with your 1099 status, there shouldn’t be any vasoline or pain involved lol…
      You will owe self employment tax on your earned income (income minus deductions), but as far as all your deductions you should have no issues there if they are all legit. You have every right to deduct all business related expenses.

  18. Brenda says

    I have a question: my husband and I made 10,000 in 1099 so it never got social security tax taken out. Is there away around this since I didnt make hardly anything last year.

    • Multima$tery says

      Hi Brenda, Self-employment tax is the social security and Medicare taxes for individuals who are self-employed. So if you end up owing this tax season, that self-employment tax should cover it.

  19. JB says

    I’m a full-time student doing some babysitting for a family. They pay me about $140/week, but sometimes it’s been cash and sometimes by check…and most times it included incidental costs returned to me for money I spent on their kids. My hours have also varied from week to week. I haven’t really been keeping track of how much I made through the year. What is my best approach with filing? I don’t want to get in trouble for not claiming, but I’m not sure what to put for an amount. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    • Multima$tery says

      Were you an employee or self-employed contractor providing babysitting services? If Employee, you should have received Form W2 stating your earnings; If Self-employed contractor, you should have received a Form 1099 stating your earnings – being that you made over $600. But either way, if you were self-employed you are responsible for keeping records to show how much income you received and how many expenses you had. This is something that you should take a serious look at, especially if you are planning on continuing to provide services.

  20. Frankie says

    Hi! I’m an independent contractor and I made a little over 2000 dollars – someone told me that since I didn’t make over 6000 i didn’t need to file taxes. Is that true? or do I need to file a 1099 next year?

    • Multima$tery says

      Well that somebody told you wrong. And I’m guessing it was the person who contracted you to do work for them. When you are contracted to do work, you should receive a 1099 from every person or business that paid you $600 or more during that tax year.
      Also refer to Note 2 in my post

  21. Keyonna says

    Hi Im a retail rep And every week we get 400 Dollars in our Hand , I Wanted to know Can I Still File taxes.

    • Multima$tery says

      Yes that’s $1600 per month cash. You are definitely suppose to report that on your taxes. Don’t know a legit retail store/operation that would pay this amount out to workers every week cash. Are you an employee or independent contractor? If employee, you should be issued a W2 for the tax year; if contractor a 1099. This would make it easier for you to file. If not, you’ll need to keep your own records and file.

  22. linda says

    I was just hired to work for a small trucking co operation dispatching owner operators. The boss insists I can be considered Ind. Cont. and he will give me 1099. I am concerned because I will have to pay MORE taxes as a result of his classification of me. He acts like it is no big deal. He says the truckers are all 1099′s like me, but they own their trucks (business) and can claim expenses and I don’t!

    • Multima$tery says

      Yes you are right. You will have to pay your regular taxes, plus you will be subject to self-employment tax as well. If he’s going to classify you as self-employed, then you might as well be, and take all the deductions & tax breaks that this classification has to offer. Because there is no doubt that the IRS will view you in this manner – and hold you responsible.
      If you don’t want to be self-employed, then maybe you should find another place of employment – or have a serious talk with him.

  23. tabi says

    hello! just quick question. im 24 and married w/two kids and im starting my own daycare in my home. i have one infant i’ll be watching and my husband works out of home. i’ll be making 5,912 dollars a year off that one kid, do i need to file??? or will i owe money? im just looking to see so i know what i need to do?! thank u for ur time!:)

    • Multima$tery says

      Yes that is a substantial amount of earnings that you should definitely file. Now whether you would owe or not, I can’t say for sure.

  24. sweetiepie77 says

    i never paid taxes i’m in my 50′s worked for the same lady cooking and cleaning and doing errands or what ever she needed since i was 22 how do i start paying taxes how much trouble am i in.i was paid 200 to 400 a week.

  25. brelala says

    Before I ask my question, I want to thank you for all of your valuable information. I have learned so much just by reading and following the entries. You’re great!
    My question is about filing as a full time grad-student: I received about $10,000 a semester in loans. Am I supposed to file on the loans? And how do I file if I have been self-employed for a year while I was in school?

    • Multima$tery says

      Hi Brelala, thank for visiting and your kind comments:)
      Assuming the loans that you received were solely used for your education, you may not have to pay taxes on them at all. In fact, you may be able to claim a tax deduction on those loans because in essence it was an ‘expense’ for you.
      Also , you may also qualify for hefty educational credit that could bring you THOUSANDS… So definitely check into this!
      There are several types of student loans from different sources and some may or may not qualify for all or certain tax breaks.
      For more info check this out:
      Five Ways to Offset Education Costs
      http://www.irs.gov/uac/Five-Ways-to-Offset-Education-Costs
      Now as far as you self employment situation is concerned, if you actually earned (meaning after business expenses) $400 or more, you’d pay self-employment tax on those net earnings. The self-employment tax is figured on Schedule SE (Form 1040).

      Hope this helps!

  26. nickie says

    I earn cash performing personal services. In my business I do not have “books”or receipts. How much do I have to make to file taxes and how do I prove my earnings?

    • Multima$tery says

      Well if you’re operating a business, then every real business should has some type of accounting or bookkeeping method (regardless of how large or small it is). So, this is something that you really need to start keeping track of – whether you do it yourself or hire an accountant.
      Bottom line is that you need to document all income and any expenses you may incur in your business. Even if you’re getting paid in cash, you can ask the payee to write you a receipt – or you can keep a receipt book with you and write the receipt. It’s ultimately your responsibility as a business owner to keep track. Then if you need to file taxes you can confidently document everything.
      I advise you to read my ‘List of Business Tax Deductions’ (There’s a link to it in the post above) which will further address your business tax questions. Best Wi$hes to you.

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