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When Do Your Kids Have to Start Filing Taxes?

When Do Kids Need to File TaxesDependents are required to file a tax return depending upon their income and their source of income. If your child has income, you need to check if he/she is required to file a return.

A dependent is a child under age 19 at the end of the year, or under age 24 at the end of the year and a full-time student. Permanently disabled children are always considered dependents no matter their age.

Types of Income

Your child may have earned income, unearned income, or both. There are different requirements for each.

  • If the child has only earned income, they are required to file a tax return if their income is above $6,300 (not blind) and $7,850 (if blind).
  • If the child has only unearned income, they are required to file if the unearned income is above $1,050 (not blind) and $2,600 (if blind).
  • If the child has both earned and unearned income, you can determine if they are required to file using the worksheet below.
1. Enter dependent’s earned income plus $350
2. Minimum amount – $1,050
3. Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter the larger amount
4. Maximum amount – 6,300
5. Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter the smaller amount
6. Enter the dependent’s gross income.
If line 6 is more than line 5,
the dependent must file an income tax return.
Source: IRS

If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 6 is $5 or more. You may use IRS Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents, for further information.

Other Filing Requirements

Some dependents may need to file a return even if their income is less than the filing threshold for dependents. A dependent is always required to file a tax return in the following scenarios:

  • If they owe Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips not reported to their employer or on wages received from an employer who did not withhold these taxes
  • Uncollected Social Security and Medicare or railroad retirement taxes on tips reported to an employer or on group-term life insurance
  • Alternative minimum tax
  • Additional tax on a health savings account from Form 8889, Part III
  • Recapture taxes, such as the tax from recapture of an education credit, or
  • Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an IRA or other tax-favored account. (If the dependent is filing a return only because of this tax, the dependent can file Form 5329 by itself.)
  • Received wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization, exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare taxes, or
  • Had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400

If an employer withholds taxes from the child’s paycheck, the child needs to file a tax return in order to receive a refund.