1040 - Filing Requirements for Most Taxpayers



Do I have to file a 1040 return?


‚ÄčThis is not an all-inclusive list of filing requirements. For a full list of requirements, see Publication 17.

You must file a federal income tax return if you are a citizen or resident of the United States or a resident of Puerto Rico and you meet the filing requirements for any of the following categories that apply to you.

  1. Individuals in general.
    • There are special rules for surviving spouses, executors, administrators, legal representatives, U.S. citizens and residents living outside the United States, residents of Puerto Rico, and individuals with income from U.S. possessions.
  2. Dependents.
  3. Certain children under age 19 or full-time students.
  4. Self-employed persons.
  5. Non-resident or Resident Aliens

File only one federal income tax return for the year regardless of how many jobs you had, how many Forms W-2 you received, or how many states you lived in during the year. Do not file more than one original return for the same year, even if you have not gotten your refund or have not heard from the IRS since you filed.

Individuals, in general, must file if:

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, whether you must file a return depends on three factors:

  1. Your gross income,
  2. Your filing status, and
  3. Your age.

Gross Income:

This includes all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax. It also includes income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude all or part of it). Include part of your social security benefits if:

  1. You were married, filing a separate return, and you lived with your spouse at any time during 20YY; or
  2. Half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly).

If either (1) or (2) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040, or Pub. 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to figure the social security benefits you must include in gross income.

Filing Status:

Your filing status depends on whether you are single or married and on your family situation. Your filing status is determined on the last day of your tax year, which is December 31 for most taxpayers. (See Publication 17 for an explanation of each filing status.)

Age:

If you are 65 or older at the end of the year, you generally can have a higher amount of gross income than other taxpayers before you must file. (See Table 1-1 below). You are considered 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. For example, if your 65th birthday is on January 1, 2021, you are considered 65 for 2020.



For more information, exceptions, and other situations you may need to file, see Publication 17.

If you are not required to file a return based on the information above and in Publication 17, you still may wish to file a return for the following reasons: 

Per Publication 17

"Even if you don't have to file, you should file a federal income tax return to get money back if any of the following conditions apply:

  1. You had federal income tax withheld or made estimated tax payments.
  2. You qualify for the earned income credit.
  3. You qualify for the additional child tax credit.
  4. You qualify for the premium tax credit.
  5. You qualify for the health coverage tax credit.
  6. You qualify for the American opportunity credit.
  7. You qualify for the credit for federal tax on fuels."