Do I need to file a 2012 tax return with the IRS?
If your income falls below the IRS filing threshold for your age and filing status, you don't need to file a 2012 federal tax return.
But even if you're not required to file, here are 3 good reasons why you may want to file anyway:
- To get a refund for any taxes withheld from your 2012 wages.
- To take advantage of the Earned Income Credit (EIC).
- To take advantage of any other refundable credits like the Additional Child Tax Credit or the American Opportunity college credit.
What if you don't need to file, you had no withholdings, and you don't qualify for any credits – should you file a return anyway to "prove" to the IRS that you had no income?
We recommend that you don't. For starters, the IRS won't let you e-file a return that has zero taxable income. And second, because the IRS already knows you have no income, all you're doing is wasting paper and creating extra work for them.
Federal (IRS) Filing Requirements
If your gross income is less than the amount shown below, you're off the hook! You are not required to file a tax return with the IRS.
|Filing Status||Age at December 31, 2012||Gross Income|
|65 or older||$11,200|
|Married Filing Jointly||Under 65 (both)||$19,500|
|65 or older (both)||$21,800|
|Under 65 (one)||$20,650|
|Married Filing Separately||Any||$3,800|
|Head of Household||Under 65||$12,500|
|65 or older||$13,950|
|Qualifying Widow(er)||Under 65||$15,700|
|65 or older||$16,850|
- If you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, the income threshold for filing is generally lower than the chart above. For instance, children and teens who work must file a tax return only if they earn more than $5,800 a year.
- If you are self-employed and your net earnings (income minus expenses) are more than $400, you need to file and pay self-employment tax. (You won't receive credit toward Social Security benefits if you don’t report and pay this tax.)
- Special rules apply for dependent children who have investment income. To learn more, read The Kiddie Tax.
Tip: For more in-depth information, consult the IRS' Do I Need to File a Tax Return? tool.
State Filing Requirements
Many states require that you file a state tax return if you filed a federal return, whereas others require filing only if your income exceeds a certain level. Click your state for filing requirements (or to contact your state, if your state doesn't provide filing requirements online).
Important: State tax law – not your refund amount – determines whether you need to file your state return.
|Alabama – Kansas||Kentucky – North Carolina||North Dakota – Wyoming|
|Alabama (AL)||Kentucky (KY)||North Dakota (ND)|
|Alaska (AK) – No tax||Louisiana (LA)||Ohio (OH)|
|Arizona (AZ)||Maine (ME)||Oklahoma (OK)|
|Arkansas (AR)||Maryland (MD)||Oregon (OR)|
|California (CA)||Massachusetts (MA)||Pennsylvania (PA)|
|Colorado (CO)||Michigan (MI)||Rhode Island (RI)|
|Connecticut (CT)||Minnesota (MN)||South Carolina (SC)|
|Delaware (DE)||Mississippi (MS)||South Dakota (SD) – No tax|
|District of Columbia (DC)||Missouri (MO)||Tennessee (TN)|
|Florida (FL) – No tax||Montana (MT)||Texas (TX) – No tax|
|Georgia (GA)||Nebraska (NE)||Utah (UT)|
|Hawaii (HI)||Nevada (NV) – No tax||Vermont (VT)|
|Idaho (ID)||New Hampshire (NH)||Virginia (VA)|
|Illinois (IL)||New Jersey (NJ)||Washington (WA) – No tax|
|Indiana (IN)||New Mexico (NM)||West Virginia (WV)|
|Iowa (IA)||New York (NY)||Wisconsin (WI)|
|Kansas (KS)||North Carolina (NC)||Wyoming (WY) – No tax|