Filing your federal income taxes can be a chore. If you earned little to no income over the course of a year, though, it’s a chore you may be able to avoid. Depending on your circumstances and your level of income, you may not need to file a federal income tax return. Even if you’re not required to file, you may want to anyway in some circumstances.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Whether or not you need to file your federal income taxes depends on your income, age and filing status.
Filing Taxes With No Income
Whether or not you need to file a tax return is based on three considerations: your gross income, your age and your filing status. You are also required to file if you’re self-employed and earned more than $400 during the year. You should also file if you are entitled to any tax returns that might result in a refund. If you don’t meet the requirements, there is no income tax return needed.
If you meet the minimum requirements to file, which change from year to year, you will need to file either a Form 1040EZ, a Form 1040A or a Form 1040. The Form 1040EZ is the simplest form, and you can use the form if you’re filing as single or married filing jointly, you’re not claiming any dependents, your income is less than $100,000, you’re not taking income deductions like IRA contributions or student loan interest and you’re not claiming any credits other than the earned income credit.
Exceptions to File Taxes With No Income
It’s common for those with no income to wonder, “If you have no income, can you get a tax refund?” The answer is maybe. You may want to file even if you had no income if you made any estimated tax payments. You may also want to file if you qualify for a tax credit.
One common tax credit is the earned income credit. To get the EIC, you need to meet income requirements, you can’t file as married filing separately, you must meet citizenship requirements and your spouse must have earned income. Other tax credits that may apply include the additional child tax credit, the premium tax credit, the health coverage tax credit, the American opportunity credit and the federal tax credit on fuels.
Filing 2018 Taxes With No Income
Whether or not you need to file taxes for the 2018 tax year, which are due in April 2019, depends on your filing status and income. If you’re filing as single, you need to file if your income is more than the standard deduction, which is $12,000. If you’re married, you must file if your joint income is more than the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly, which is $24,000.
Filing 2017 Taxes With No Income
The minimum amount to file taxes depends on your age and filing status. For the 2017 tax year, if you’re filing as single and you’re less than age 65, you must file an income tax return if your gross income is at least $10,400. If you’re at least age 65, your income must be at least $11,950.
If you’re filing as married filing jointly and both of you are less than age 65, you need to file a return if your income is at least $20,800. If one of you is at least age 65, the minimum gross income needed to file a return is $22,050, and if both of you are at least age 65, the minimum is $23,300. If you’re filing as married filing separately and your income is at least $4,050, you need to file a return.
Melinda Hill Sineriz is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her work has appeared on Pocket Sense and Sapling. She specializes in business, personal finance, and career writing. She has worked in insurance sales and financial planning, helping families to manage their money and prepare for the future. Learn more about her and her work at thatmelinda.com.