When A Dependent Must File Tax Return ?

dependentUnder US Tax code , a tax payer gets tax exemption , deductions and tax credits for the qualified dependents. for example , you may have qualified child dependents or parents who are claimed as dependent in your return. They may have independent source of income i.e they may have earned income or unearned income . As per 26 US Code ,  the claim of tax relief on account of dependent in your return also enjoins upon the dependent to check if filing of tax return is obligatory under the law. Internal Revenue Code provides different parameters for -single dependents and married dependents- deciding about the condition of filing tax return by them.

How to Determine if Dependent Must File Tax Return ?

You will have to first compute Earned Income and Unearned Income . Add both types of income. That is your Gross Income . Then the Gross Income  will be compared with a threshold . If your Gross Income crosses the threshold, filing of return is must. In case of dependents , however the obligation to file tax return depends upon the Earned Income threshold or Unearned Income thresholds which are fixed on the basis of fact whether the dependents are Single or Married. Please read  What is Earned & Unearned Income ?

Rule for Single Dependents

Filing of tax return is must for a dependent if any of the following conditions are staisfied  (Tax Year 2015 )

Nature of Income Below 65 Years Not blind Exceeding 65 Years not blind Blind but below 65 years Blind but exceeding 65 years
Earned Income is more than $6300 $2600 $2600 $4150
Unearned Income is more than $1050 $7850 $7850 $9400
Income from self employment $ 400 $400 $400 $400
Gross income is more than the Greater of
  • $1,050, or
  • Your earned income plus $350.
  • $2,600  or
  • Your earned income  plus $1,900
  • $2,600  or
  • Your earned incomeplus $1,900
  • $4,150  or
  • Your earned income plus $3,450

 

Filing Requirements for Married Dependents 

Filing of tax return is must for a dependent if any of the following conditions are staisfied in case of  married dependent

Nature of Income Below 65 Years Not blind Exceeding 65 Years not blind Blind but below 65 years Blind but exceeding 65 years
Earned Income is more than $6300 $2300 $2300 $3550
Unearned Income is more than $1050 $7550 $7550 $8800
Income from self employment $ 400 $400 $400 $400
Gross income is more than the Greater of
  • $1,050, or
  • Your earned income plus $350.
  • $2,300  or
  • Your earned income  plus $1,600
  • $2,300  or
  • Your earned incomeplus $1,600
  • $3550  or
  • Your earned income plus $2850
One common rule for married dependent is that if dependent has minimum gross income of $5 and the spouse of dependent files a separate return and itemizes deductions. In that case also filing of tax return is required

Explanation About Gross Income

One common rule that also be seen is that if your gross income was more than the larger of

  • $1,050, or
  • Your earned income  plus $350.

For example , say Mr X who is below 65 years of age  has Earned Income of 5700 amd Unearned Income is 750

So Gross Income is 5700 + 750= 6450. This is more than $ 6050 , i.e the greater of

  • $ 1050 or
  • $ 5700 + 350= 6050

So, return filing for dependent is must in this case, even though as per table the income criteria failes.

Publication 929 of IRS can be consulted for more on the filing requirements of dependents .

 

You can also check out this dependent’s tax filing requirement calculator .

 

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