Do Your Kids Need to File Taxes?

Posted by Madison on March 1, 2018

Do your kids need to file taxes? Usually filing taxes for the kids is an afterthought. Only after people scramble to finish filing in time for the tax deadline do they realize they didn’t even think about the kids.

Will you remember to file taxes for your kids?

If your kids earn interest and dividends, or have a job, check out the requirements for filing taxes.

2017 Kids Tax Filing Requirements

We will update this page soon with requirements for this year. If you need it updated right away, feel free to drop us a note!

If you claim your child as a dependent on your return, the kids need to file taxes if ANY of the following are true for tax year 2017 (due in 2018):

  • Earned income, from a job for example, is more than $6,350.
  • Unearned income, including dividends or interest, is more than $1050.
  • Self employment net earnings are more than $400.
  • Earned and unearned total income is more than the larger of $1050 or earned income plus $350.

Also, if interest, dividends and other investment income are more than $2,100 in 2017, you’re going to get hit with the kiddie tax (which means you’ll pay your tax rate on part of your child’s income).

Filing a Child’s Tax Return

You can file your child’s taxes for free at TurboTax.

If you want, you can also attach it to your return if the income is less than $10,500 and only from interest or dividends. This option is available to children under age 19 (or a full time student under 24) who are not filing a joint return using Form 8814.

A word of caution though, qualified dividends or capital gains may be taxed at a higher rate if you attach it to your return instead of filing the child’s return separately.

More Filing Requirements

There are other circumstances when children must file a tax return. For more information see Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents.

For more information when others must file, see minimum income to file taxes.

More Tax Topics

Get your biggest tax refund, guaranteed. Plus FREE Expert Tax Advice. File your Federal tax return for FREE today with TurboTax!

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Comments to Do Your Kids Need to File Taxes?

  1. I followed the advice here and opened an ING direct account about 6 months ago to get my $25 sign up bonus. Of course, it occurred to me that perhaps I can open multiple accounts and get severl bonuses…especially if I use my own referral link. What are the limitations on doing this? Can I in fact receive multiple sign up bonuses for opening new accounts? Or is it limited based on my personal information/checking account. Any advice?


    • You bet John! We refer our family members all the time. For example, I referred my husband, he referred my son, who in turn referred my other son and our infant daughter.

      You can’t refer yourself, but as long as the person opening the new account is new to ING, you can open as many as you have referrals for.


      • Do you need to use a different checking account to fund the new ING account? For example, could I refer my parents and have them sign up, but fund the account with my own checking account? (they aren’t into online banking..)


  2. John, I think we used the same checking account when I signed up my kids (obviously, since they don’t have checking accounts).

    I’m not sure what their rules are for linking accounts, but you might have to be a joint owner with your parents to use your checking account.

    I listed myself as a joint owner (the kids 1st, then me 2nd) and that worked out.


  3. so if i made $3633, when i worked for 8 months, and im 18 and unemployed and in college, are my taxes worth filing? my federal income tax withheld is- $56 and my state is- $58.

    Mason Brackett

  4. Our son used to have large taxable investment returns prior to putting his college money into a 529. In those earlier years, we always just added his taxes due to our tax return. Due to the tax sheltering of his 529 account, we no longer have to pay tax for his investments. I am hoping that in a few years when he gets his driver’s license, he will find a summer job, and he will obviously then have to file a tax return.

    Bryce @ Save and Conquer

  5. Interesting! I never knew these rules. I started filing taxes at age 15 when I got my first job but never thought anything of it at the time.

    Kayla @ Add-Vodka

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