Do You Have to File a Tax Return?

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

 

You are required to file a federal income tax return if your income is above a certain level, which varies based on your filing status and age, as well as the type of income that you receive.

For the year 2011, the following individuals must file a Federal income tax return:

• If your filing status is SINGLE and at the end of 2011 you were UNDER AGE 65, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $9,500.

• If your filing status is SINGLE and at the end of 2011 you were AGE 65 OR OLDER, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $10,950.

• If your filing status is MARRIED FILING JOINTLY and at the end of 2011 BOTH SPOUSES were UNDER AGE 65, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $19,000.

• If your filing status is MARRIED FILING JOINTLY and at the end of 2011 ONE SPOUSE was AGE 65 OR OLDER, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $20,150.

• If your filing status is MARRIED FILING JOINTLY and at the end of 2011 BOTH SPOUSES were AGE 65 OR OLDER, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $21,300.

• If your filing status is MARRIED FILING SEPARATELY and at the end of 2011 your were ANY AGE, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $3,700.

• If your filing status is HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD and at the end of 2011 you were UNDER AGE 65, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $12,200.

• If your filing status is HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD and at the end of 2011 you were AGE 65 OR OLDER, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $13,650.

• If your filing status is QUALIFYING WIDOW(ER) WITH DEPENDENT CHILD and at the end of 2011 you were UNDER AGE 65, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $15,300.

• If your filing status is QUALIFYING WIDOW(ER) WITH DEPENDENT CHILD and at the end of 2011 you were AGE 65 OR OLDER, then you must file a return if your GROSS INCOME was at least $16,450.

 

According to the IRS, you will most likely need to file a federal income tax return if you answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

  • Did you have Federal taxes withheld from your pension and wages for this tax year and wish to get a refund back?
  • Are you entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit or did you receive Advance Earned Income Credit for this tax year?
  • Were you self-employed with earnings of more than $400.00?
  • Did you sell your home?
  • Will you owe any special tax on a qualified retirement plan (including an individual retirement account (IRA) or medical savings account (MSA)? You may owe tax if you:
  • -    Received an early distribution from a qualified plan
  • -    Made excess contributions to your IRA or MSA
  • -    Were born before July 1, 1940, and you did not take the minimum required distribution from your qualified retirement plan
  • -    Received a distribution in the excess of $160,000 from a qualified retirement plan
  • Will you owe social security and Medicare tax on tips you did not report to your employer?
  • Will you owe uncollected social security and Medicare or Railroad retirement (RRTA) tax on tips you reported to your employer?
  • Will you be subject to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)? (The tax law gives special treatment to some kinds of income and allows special deductions and credit for some kinds of expenses.)
  • Will you owe recapture tax?
  • Are you a church employee with income in wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security or Medicare taxes?

For more information about your federal income tax, please see IRS Publication 17, titled Tax Guide 2011.