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Monday July 15, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Do I Need to File a Tax Return This Year?

What are the income tax filing requirements for this tax season? I have not filed a tax return for the past two years because my income was below the filing threshold. I got a part-time job late last year, so I am wondering if I am required to file this year.

The requirement to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on how much you earned last year (in 2023), the source of the income, your age and filing status. Here is a rundown of this tax season’s IRS tax filing requirement thresholds.

If your 2023 gross income, which includes all taxable income but excludes Social Security benefits (unless you are married and filing separately), was below the threshold for your filing status and age, you likely will not have to file. If it exceeds this threshold, you will be required to file.

Single: $13,850 ($15,700 if you are 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2023).
Married filing jointly: $27,700 ($29,200 if you or your spouse is 65 or older or $30,700 if you are both over 65).
Married filing separately: $5 at any age.
Head of household: $20,800 ($22,650 if you are 65 or older).
Qualifying surviving spouse: $27,700 ($29,200 if you are 65 or older).

To get a detailed breakdown on federal filing requirements along with information on taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the “1040 and 1040-SR Instructions for Tax Year 2023.” You can also find information online at IRS.gov/instructions/i1040gi.

Other Financial Situations

Other financial situations can require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirements. For example, if you earned more than $400 from self-employment in 2023, owe any taxes on an IRA, Health Savings Account or an alternative minimum tax or receive premium tax credits due to enrollment by you, your spouse or a dependent in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan, you must file.

You will also need to file if you are receiving Social Security benefits and one-half of your benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest exceeds $25,000, or $32,000 if you are married and filing jointly.

The IRS offers an online tax tool that asks a series of questions that will help you determine if you are required to file or if you should file because you are due a refund. This process typically takes less than 15 minutes to complete. You can access this tool at IRS.gov/Help/ITA and click on “Do I Need to File a Tax Return?” You can also get assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040.

Check Your State

Even if you are not required to file a federal tax return this year, do not assume that you are exempt from filing state income taxes. State law can vary significantly so the rules for your state might be very different. Check with your state tax agency to determine if you are required to file a state tax return this year.

Tax Preparation Help

If you do need to file a tax return this year, you can file for free through the IRS at apps.IRS.gov/app/freeFile if your 2023 adjusted gross income was below $79,000.

For middle and low-income taxpayers who are 60 or older, contact the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program for free tax preparation and counseling. Call 800-906-9887 or visit IRS.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to locate services near you. You can also check online to find nonprofits that provide tax return preparation assistance free of charge for qualified individuals.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published February 9, 2024
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