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Every year, tax season rears its head like clockwork, and those W2s, 1099s, and other forms start rolling in. And while it may seem like a blip on the distant horizon, the filing deadline will be here before you know it.

Getting all of your tax information prepared as early as possible (i.e., as soon as you've received all of the necessary documentation) is important. But depending on how much money you make and how you plan on filing your taxes, there's another important thing to figure out: Do you even make enough money to be required to file taxes?

This can be a worthwhile question if you're not making that much money at the moment. If you fall below a certain threshold of annual income, you may not need to file taxes. However, often even in these cases, there are certain circumstances that do necessitate a tax return, such as particular health insurance situations, self-employment, or eligibility for an earned income tax credit.

If these don't apply to you, though, do you need to file taxes?

What Is the Minimum Income Threshold to File Taxes? 

Income-based tax requirements vary depending on how you plan to file a tax return. Whether or not you need to file a tax return has to do with whether you're income is above the first tax bracket, but tax brackets vary depending on how you file.

The income threshold you must exceed to be required to file taxes varies depending on if you are single (no spouse or dependent), married and filing jointly, married and filing separately, or filing as a head of household. Let's break them all down. Note: All ages listed are as of December 31st, 2021. 

Single

If you are single and under the age of 65, the minimum amount of annual gross income you can make that requires filing a tax return is $12,550. If you're 65 or older and plan on filing single, that minimum goes up to $14,250.

Married and Filing Jointly

How much you have to make if you're married and filing jointly will depend on the age of both you and your spouse, generally coming out to double what someone filing single would require. If both spouses are under 65, you need to make at least $25,100. If both spouses are 65 or older, you will have to make a minimum of $27,800. If just one of you is 65 or older, split the difference; you need to make $26,450.

Qualifying Widower

If you are a qualifying widower (meaning your spouse died during this tax year) with a dependent child, you are also able to file as married filing jointly, and the age disparity still applies: at least $25,100 if you're under 65, at least $26,450 if you're 65 or older.

Married and Filing Separately

Those who are married and filing separately, interestingly, only require a gross income of $5 to have to file a tax return.

Head of Household

If you qualify for head of the household status and look to file as such, you have to file a tax return if you make $18,800 or more under the age of 65. If you are 65 or older, that number is $20,500 in gross income.

How Much Do You Have to Make if You're a Dependent?

You may still have to file a tax return even if you're being claimed as a dependent, depending on a number of factors. There's the earned income you make, the unearned income you make (another term for passive income), and your gross income, and the minimums for all of these will be determined by either your age or whether or not you are blind.

Single, Under 65, and Not Blind

If you are a single dependent under the age of 65 and not blind, you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $1,100 in unearned income
  • You made more than $12,550 in earned income
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $1,100 or your earned income up to $12,200 plus $350

Single and 65+ or Blind

If you are a single dependent who is either 65 or older or blind, you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $2,800 in unearned income
  • You made more than $14,250 in earned income
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $2,800 or your earned income up to $12,200 plus $2,050

Single, 65+, and Blind

If you are a single dependent who is both 65 or older and blind, you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $4,500 in unearned income
  • You made more than $15,950 in earned income
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $4,500 of your earned income up to $12,200 plus $3,750

Married, Under 65, and Not Blind

If you are a married dependent under the age of 65, not blind, and filing jointly you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $1,100 in unearned income
  • You made more than $12,550 in earned income
  • Your gross income was $5 or more and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $1,100 or your earned income up to $12,200 plus $350

Married and 65+ or Blind

If you are a married dependent who is either 65 or older or blind, you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $2,450 in unearned income
  • You made more than $13,900 in earned income
  • Your gross income was $5 or more and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $2,450 or your earned income up to $12,200 plus $1,700

Married, 65+, and Blind

If you are a married dependent who is both 65 or older and blind, you will have to file a tax return if:

  • You made more than $3,800 in unearned income
  • You made more than $15,250 in earned income
  • Your gross income was $5 or more and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of either $3,800 or your earned income up to $12,200 plus $3,050

Do You Have to File Taxes if You're a Student?

Your parents can claim you as a dependent up to age 19 unless you continue your education, in which case they can claim you as a dependent through age 24 (as of the end of the tax year in question). If you're being claimed as a dependent, check the aforementioned requirements of dependents to see if you fit them. If so, you'll have to file a tax return.

Even if you don't have to file a tax return, you may still want to look into it. Depending on your situation, you may be able to deduct a limited amount of higher education expenses or claim education-specific tax credits like the American Opportunity Credit.