Do You Need to File a Tax Return in 2015?

What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for retirees this tax season? I didn’t have to file last year, but I picked up a little income from a part-time job in 2014 and I’m wondering whether I need to file this year. Whether or not you are required to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on how much you earned (gross income), the source of that income, your filing status and your age. Your gross income includes all the income you receive that is not exempt from tax, excluding your Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately. Here’s a rundown of the IRS filing requirements for this tax season. You probably won’t have to file if your 2014 gross income is below the threshold for your age and filing status. However, if your gross income is above the threshold then most likely you will.

  • Single: $10,150 ($11,700 if you’re 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2015).
  • Married filing jointly: $20,300 ($21,500 if you or your spouse is 65 or older; or $22,700 if you’re both over 65).
  • Married filing separately: $3,950 at any age.
  • Head of household: $13,050 ($14,600 if age 65 or older).
  • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child: $16,350 ($17,550 if age 65 or older).Special RequirementsCheck Your StateTax Prep Assistance
  • If you find that you do need to file a tax return this year, you can get help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (or TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TCE provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle and low-income taxpayers age 60 and older. Call 800-906-9887 or visit irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to locate a service near you. Also check with AARP, a participant in the TCE program that provides free tax preparation at more than 5,000 sites nationwide. To locate an AARP Tax-Aide site call 888-227-7669 or visit aarp.org/findtaxhelp. You don’t have to be an AARP member to use this service.
  • Even if you’re not required to file a federal tax return this year, don’t assume that you’re also excused from filing state income taxes. The rules for your state might be very different. Check with your state tax agency before concluding that you don’t need to file. For links to state and local tax agencies see taxadmin.org and click on “State Agencies/Links” on the menu bar.
  • You may be required to file a tax return even though your gross income is below the threshold for your age and filing status. For example, you will need to file if you earned more than $400 in self-employment income during 2014 or if you owe any special taxes to the IRS such as alternative minimum tax (AMT) or IRA tax penalties. In addition, you may want to file if you are due a refund. Fortunately, the IRS offers a tool on their website that asks a series of questions designed to help you determine if you’re required to file. You can access this tool by going to irs.gov/filing and clicking on “Do you need to file a return?” You can get assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040 or face-to-face help at a Taxpayer Assistance Center. See irs.gov/localcontacts or call 800-829-1040 to locate a center near you.
  • For a detailed breakdown on federal filing requirements as well as information on taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS (800-829-3676) and request a free copy of the “Tax Guide for Seniors” (publication 554) or go to irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p554.pdf.
  • Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

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