Who Has to File Taxes?

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If you think the IRS expects to hear from everybody this time of year, here’s something that might surprise you:

“We get quite a few returns that come in that really don’t have to be filed. If we can discern from what you filed that you’re not required, then we’ll send you back a letter saying that you really don’t have to file a tax return again.”
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

That’s right: depending on your age, income and filing status, this is one stressful situation you might be able to avoid.

However, if that’s true you may have stress of a different kind…because one reason you might not have to file is you’re barely getting by.

Income cutoffs for filing tax returns change every year with inflation. For 2008, single filers who made less than $8,950 don’t have to file. The cutoff for married filing jointly is $17,900.

If you’re 65 or older, you get to make more without filing. Singles can make up to $10,300. And if you’re married, $20,000. But even if you don’t have to file a return, you might want to anyway.

“You may still want to file if you’ve got withholding tax that was paid in and you’re gonna get a refund so you’d want to get that back. Or you may be entitled to the earned income tax credit.
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

By the way, these rules are rife with exceptions; for example, your dependents have to file at much lower income levels. Bottom line? If you don’t have to file, don’t. But do be sure.

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  • rickroush

    I just turned 62 in january and retired at the end of the month. My only “income” will be from my company pension check and social security. I'm having my company take out 15% (12% federal, 3%state of Ohio) from my pension check. Social Security isn't taking out anything. I talked to one of their young agents and he told me I don't have to pay taxes on Social Security.

    But, I keep reading on the internet that I do, if I make over a certain amount of yearly income. Are my pension check and Social Security checks considered income? Or is “income” what I would make if I picked up a part time job?

    I don't want to wait untill the end of the year and find out that I owe a ton of money to the government.

    Please respond to my email, and I can give you exact amounts of these two monthly checks that I receive.

    Thanks,
    Rick