The federal government gives tax breaks to parents who claim financially dependent children on tax returns. If your parent claims you as a dependent on an income tax return, you can still file your own tax return. In fact, dependents with income face stricter filing requirements than other taxpayers, so you could be required to file a return.
Your parent can claim you as a child dependent if you lived with him longer than half the year, do not file a joint return, did not pay for more than half of your own financial support for the year and you are under 19, or 24 if a full-time student. The age requirement does not apply if you are disabled. You also count as your parent's dependent at any age if he provides more than half your financial support and your gross income is less than $3,800. Your parent gets a $3,800 tax exemption for each dependent he claims on his tax return.
Dependent Filing Requirements
As a dependent, you are required to file an income tax return if your earned income is more than $5,800 or if your unearned income is more than $950. Earned income is money you make by working a job, while unearned income describes passive income like interest and dividends that you don't have to work for. Dependents cannot claim the $3,800 personal tax exemption that applies to other taxpayers.
Dividends and Interest
If you have income only in the form of dividends and interest, you may be able to include your income on your parent's tax return and avoid filing our own return. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you can generally include your interest and dividend income on your parent's return if the total amount of dividends and interest is under $9,500, you are under age 19m or 24 if a full-time student, and you would be required to file a return if you didn't include the income on your parent's return.
You can choose to file an income tax return even if you aren't required to file. For example, if you work part-time and had $4,000 in earned income for the year, you don't have to file a return because your income is under the $5,800 limit, but you can voluntarily file a return. Filing a tax return can be beneficial even when you don't have to file because the IRS may owe you a tax refund.
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 501 - Introductory Material
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 501 - Main Content
- Internal Revenue Service: Do I have to File a Tax Return?
- Intuit: Can I File an Income Tax Return if I Don't Have Any Income?
- Internal Revenue Service: Six Important Facts about Dependents and Exemptions
- Internal Revenue Service: In 2012, Many Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments
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