If you’re like most Americans, filing taxes is one of those civic duties that is met with a little dread or anxiety. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned taxpaying vet, filing taxes usually isn’t something we look forward to. The simple fact is that taxes are complicated—you need so many forms, schedules, documents, invoices, records… the list goes on and on.
Most Commonly Asked Tax Questions
Luckily there are a number of resources out there that can simplify tax season. We’re here to give you the answers to your most frequently asked tax questions so you can have a sense of clarity and confidence before the April 15th deadline!
How do I know if I need to file taxes?
Wondering whether you even need to file taxes? You’re in the same boat as millions of Americans. Determining whether you need to file or not is completely dependent on your gross income, filing status, dependency status, and age. IRS publication 501 goes into greater and more specific detail on who is, and who isn’t required to file taxes. However for most people, the determining factor is gross income. Here’s how it breaks down.
Single filers must file a tax return if:
- You are under 65 and earned more than $12,000 on your W-2
- You are 65 or older and earned more than $13,6000 on your W-2
Head of Household filers must file a tax return if:
- You are under 65 and earned more than $18,000
- You are 65 or older and earned more than $19,000
Married Filing Jointly filers must file a tax return if:
- Both spouses are under 65 and earned more than $24,000
- Both spouses are 65 or older and earned more than $25,300
Married Filing Separately filers must file a tax return if:
- You earned over $5
Qualifying Widower filers must file a tax return if:
● You are under 65 and earned more than $24,000
● You are 65 or older and earned more than $25,300
Across the board, if you are self-employed and have earned over $400, you must file a tax return to report your earnings.
How can I file my taxes?
Fortunately, in the digital age, you have a number of options when it comes to filing your taxes. Once you’ve figured out your total gross income and whether you’re exempt from backup withholding, you can go with the old-school by filing method by mail, or you can conveniently file online. The IRS also offers a free filing system that is available to taxpayers earning under $66,000. Remember, you can always enlist the help of a tax preparer who can sort your documents and calculations for a pretty penny.
What is my filing status?
There are a total of five different filing statuses which determines how your tax documentation is treated differently. The five statuses include:
- Single: Unmarried people who do not qualify as Head of Household or Widower will file as Single.
Married Filing Jointly: Married couple who decide to report their incomes, exemptions, and deductions together on the same return will file as Married Filing Jointly.
- Married Filing Separately: Married couples who don’t want to file together to save on tax owed have the option to file as Married Filing Separately.
- Head of Household: Unmarried people (single, divorced, and legally separated qualify too) who have paid for more than half the cost of upkeeping your home, and live with a qualifying person (dependent, child, or relative) or people qualify as Head of Household.
- Widower with Dependent Child: People who have suffered the loss of a spouse within the past two years with a dependent child or stepchild living with them qualify as Widower with Dependent Child.
Tax season doesn’t have to be the scary time of year most people make it out to be. Though it is intimidating to accurately calculate your income and report back to the government, taking things step by step and breaking pieces of the form down will help familiarize yourself and complete the process without missing a thing!
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