How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

Posted by Madison on February 20, 2019

How much money do you have to make to file taxes? What is the minimum income to file taxes?

Let’s take a look at the requirements for the minimum income to file taxes in 2018 (and due in 2019).

2018 Minimum Income Requirements

The IRS released the minimum income to file taxes in 2018.

For the 2018 tax year, you will need to file taxes if your gross income meets the minimum income for your filing status and age. Here are the minimum income limits for the 2018 tax year.

How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes 2018

Filing Status Minimum Gross Income
(under 65)
Minimum Gross Income (65+)
Single $12,000 $13,600
Head of Household $18,000 $19,600
Married Filing Jointly $24,000 $25,300 (one spouse)
$26,600 (both spouses)
Married Filing Separately $5 $5
Widow with Dependent Child $24,000 $25,300

This table does not apply to dependents. See When Do Kids Need to File Taxes? for minimum income to file taxes for children.

Once you find out if you meet the minimum income to file taxes, you can determine your tax rate using the current tax brackets.

Social Security Income

Gross income doesn’t include social security benefits.

However, there is an exception to this rule if half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). Once that happens, you’ll need to file a 2018 tax return. Married filing separate also have different social security rules. For more information, see Do You Have to Pay Income Tax on Social Security?

Other Income Sources

There are special rules for self employment earnings and church earnings. You must file taxes if your:

  • Self employment net earnings are greater than $400.
  • Church earnings are greater than $108.28 and are exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare.

If you are self employed, you will also need to file and pay self employment tax.

Filing Requirement for Health Care Responsibility

The filing requirement for health insurance continues for the 2018 tax year. If you received advancements of the health insurance premium tax credit to pay for health insurance, you will need to file a tax return. Here’s how to reconcile your payments and Claim the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit. In addition, you will also report any penalties for no health insurance on your tax return. This is the final year for penalties.

More Tax Filing Requirements

Optional filing. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you can choose to file one. You may want to file an optional tax return if you had any federal withholding or are entitled to tax credits, like the earned income tax credit or the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit and want to get a refund.

Other filing requirements. In addition to the income requirements, there are other circumstances when you must file a tax return. One example is if you sold your home. For all the requirements, see Publication 17.

When to file. If you earn enough money to file a tax return, you must file your tax return by the tax deadline.

After you file. Once you file, you can see How Long Does it Take to Get Your Tax Refund Back?

Tax Filing Online

Now that you know how much money you have to make to file taxes, go ahead and file your free federal and state taxes online with TurboTax!

More Tax Topics

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Comments to How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

  1. I always laugh a little when I see articles about paying your taxes in the US.
    It just seems so difficult.
    In Estonia (look it up on a map!) where I live it is a lot easier:
    When the yearly tax paying period starts you need to log into your account at the government’s website. All the information is already pre-filled and calculated for you. You just need to click “next” a few times and make sure there are no obvious errors and if you should get something back – it will be wired to your bank account by the next day.
    Dealing with taxes takes about 5 – 10 minutes a year.
    So no one really bothers to write any articles it as well!

    Roman @

    • I can appreciate that, Roman. But keep in mind that we have more people in Pittsburgh, PA than in all of Estonia. But I would love to visit someday!

      Karl Messner

      • Is it abt the number of people though. Seems to like problem is the unnecessarily complex tax code in the US


    • LUCKY! Man I wish it were like that over here….


    • That’s what we do in the U.S. we have to make things complicated so companies like H&R Block, CPAs and lawyers can make money out of it. Like what our politicians always say, “It’s not that simple”.


  2. @ Roman: Wow, sounds so easy! How do they know how much self-employment income you have to prefill it?


  3. Waitaminit. Do I understand this correctly?

    If HALF your Social Security plus ALL your gross income from other sources = <$25,000, you don’t have to file a tax return? In other words, you wouldn’t pay any income taxes?

    ALL gross income? Does that include capital gains taxes on drawdowns from a regular IRA or 403(b)?

    That sounds too good to be true.

    Funny about Money

  4. @ Funny about Money: Yep, you read it correctly. All the income includes retirement plan distributions, tax exempt interest and other exclusions from income.

    Here’s more info from the IRS: Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?


  5. I’ve been divorced for 3 years now. On my divorce papers it says that I can claim my daughter on my taxes until my ex wife gets a job. Then we switch each year on claiming our daughter. My ex has remarried and I pay child support. Well the 2008 tax year she worked. I’m not sure how much she made last year. My deal is if my ex does a joint return then that means her husband can use my daughter on their tax return? My ex lives in a really small town in Arkansas and I live in San Diego. Do I go by what just my ex made, or can she use what she made (which I’m pretty sure isn’t that much)? I just don’t want to be screwed on my taxes. Any help would be great.


    • My suggestion is to follow the divorce decree. Start by sending a certified mail letter to you ex wife asking her to prove her income (so you can make sure she has a job each year) and them include a signed agreement as to with year odd or even as to who gets to claim the child. IRS does provide a form that the other parent must sign IF you think there will be a problem. It is not necessary for this form but it clears up any questions as to which one will claim the child. You could always make a deal with her to claim your daughter each year and then share a portion of your return.


  6. Great article. Hopefully you’ll update us soon on how your new business and rental properties are working out!!


  7. @ Shelly: Thanks for the reminder! I just posted an update on the business. I’ll work on putting something together soon for the rentals.


  8. So if I am single and filing as that then if my annual gross income is less than $9,350.00 then I don’t have to file taxes?


    • If you are single and earned less than that (but still earned something) you are probably due a hefty tax return due to the stimulus tax credits and should file. Turbotax has a free, easy to use version. Taking 30 minutes to file might get you $500 in return. Don’t skip it!


  9. If I file ‘married filing jointly’ and my wife’s income was only $3400, do I have to include her W2 information?


    • Nigel,
      If you file under married filing jointly, you will add both of your incomes together to see if you are over the filing threshold.

      If you’re over the minimum, you’ll include both of your incomes.


  10. My parenting plan states that each parent must send the other their federal tax papers every year. If I don’t work, but file jointly with my new spouse do I still have to send my ex our joint return? Is there a site I can find the answer written?

    Just Curious

    • Hmmm, I really don’t know much about parenting plans.

      Are you using the return to show each other the amount of income? Or proof of claiming a child?


  11. My gross income 2010 was 55,000 and my husband 9,311. Should I put married filling jointly and don’t put his w-2 information then?


    • Hi Nancy,

      Together your income is over the threshold, so you’ll include both of your incomes for married filing joint.


  12. Where can I find the official IRS publication that says I don’t need to file 2010 taxes because I made less than $9,000?


  13. Have a newer marriage and trying to figure out how to file taxes for my business. Should we be filing as a partnership since she does the paperwork, billing, estimates, scheduling, and some of the labor? With the marriage also now have a larger family to care for, with my wife’s help there has been more income which is needed to care for larger family and for growing business. Would filing as a partnership help child support payments from going up? Would that make half the income wife’s?


    • The business is an LLC and we are based in Wisconsin if that matters also.


  14. Hi
    My husband refuses to have taxes taken out and we end up with tax debt for years being married. He always filed jointly without me being there and pays minimum taxes for IRS payment plan. I don’t want to be responsible for anymore tax debt what can i do?
    I am only a permanent resident for 5 years and i don’t want debt to be a problem filing for citizenship. right now he said we have about 9000$(paying 200 a month on it) from 2007 and 3-6000) more from 2008 coming to be add on and i fear more from 2009 and 2010 i don’t think he filed 2010 yet.
    I don’t earn anything since i don’t work. i never filed taxes in USA and do i have to file federal and state taxes if i want to file separate from my husband?


  15. Hello. I made about 15 grand in 2010 most of it was from my own business and a small portion of it was another job that they didnt take taxes out of. do i have to make more to file?



    • Joshua,

      Yes, you are over the minimum income to file taxes for self employed, so you’ll need to file a tax return for 2010.


  16. Ok so if I make under 3,000 dollars do I still need to file taxes or not and because my step mother claimed me dependent even though I’m 19 live on my own and barely worked.


  17. I’m sure this is a stupid question- sorry!
    My husband and his ex have 2 children.
    She has never had a job, but for the past few years has been remarried, so always filed jointly with her husband. So she always claimed one of the children, and my husband claimed the other.

    Last year she divorced her husband, and still has no job. (Lives off the government and child support)
    Since she has no earned income, and won’t even be filing taxes, shouldn’t my husband be able to claim both children now? And she is no longer eligible to receive any of the earned income credit for them?
    We’re just trying to figure this out.


    • Legally you shhould be able to claim the children. Technically since he pays child support he should have the right to claim the children every other year or atleast 1 child per year. You should review your child support case or court papers to see exactly what your rights are and if she is in the wrong you should hire a lawyer and sue her for what she owes you.

      Back to your question, you should be able to claim them, however shell probably have a family member claim them and split the refund with them


  18. I have a small seasonal business operating thru summer hours only. I have 24 teens who put in around 12 hours a month. Is it ok to pay them in cash without reporting it or filling out paperwork on them. Thank you.


    • No, it is ok to pay in cash but NOT ok to avoid reporting their income on a W-2 to the IRS and to them. If they truly work independently without your direction(very doubtful) you can provide a 1099 Miscellaneous Income to the IRS and to them. You must report your business income and list the money paid to them on Sch C or C-EZ as expenses.


  19. I have court papers that say i get to claim my son on odd years,and my ex gets the even years. But she claimed him on my year. i haven’t filed yet, im still waiting on W-2’s. i plan on claiming him anyways because it is my year. what kind of problems am i looking at?




  20. im 20. i worked part time this year totalling up to about 12 thousand dollars. I never filed before. is this the first year i need to file?


    • Yolanda,
      Assuming you are single, yes, you’ll need to file this year.


  21. For those of you asking about children and deductions, etc. You have to stick to the divorce degree unless both of you in writing determine you want to do something else. Never married, or divorces, but have a child that I claim.

    What I did, I agreed to pay half of the difference between my two refunds to her if I claim my son. So if my refund was $2k without him, and $6k with him, she gets and extra $2k check from me, and I get an extra $2k from uncle sam. No reason to not both benefit.

    As for minimums, I just hope I never have to worry about hitting a minimum (or praying I don’t hit it) as that means I am getting so little income I will be really poor. (Note: I am in my late 30’s now).


  22. My husband made 33,347.00 & I only worked for 3 months from sept. to dec. making 3,535.00. I also had 5,200.00 in gambling winnings & received 2 W2G’s. Does he have to report my income? Should we file married filing separately? I’m not quite sure how we should do this. Can he just report my winnings & not my job income? I’m so confused!

    amy armstead

    • Amy,
      It sounds like you made over $42k between the two of you, so you will need to file. You will both need to report all of your income (from both of your jobs and the gambling winnings).

      As far as married filing separate, it’s rare that a couple will owe less tax filing separate rather than jointly. In order to figure out which way is better, you’d have to run it both ways.


  23. My wife runs a Daycare and paid my mother-in-law $8000 for helping her since she lives with us. If I report the $8000, will she have to worry about filing a tax return? My return is higher if I report the $8000 than if I claim her. Is it possible to do both? Any help is appreciated!


  24. If you pay your 16 year child $4,500.00 from your small business in the state of virginia, what taxes do they pay?


  25. I do a few massages for my friends from home a few times a week. They pay me some. So I’m now (1/2012-5/2012), make more than $600 already. Is that mean I will have to file it next year? Some paid cash and some paid checks. Please help. Thank you so much!


  26. There is a wealth of information in those pages. I prepare tax returns and if you can read, you may be able to prepare your own tax return using the formulas in the dollar plan.

    Fig Newton

  27. I only worked about 4 months out of 2012 and I made a little over $6,000. The government took out about $600 of it. I’m 18 and still live with my mother. Should I let her file me , or file myself and see if I get a return?


  28. Hello

    I have a question about the IRS taking your tax refund. If that happens are you able to claim the monies taken? The IRS took my federal taxes last year due to a tax debt from 2006.


  29. It’s so sad to see comments on this website where people really believe they have to pay federal income taxes. They most likely haven’t a clue to what the Constitution reveals about direct taxation. Then they have never seen the inside of the Internal Revenue Code or they would realize that the income tax only applies to federal entities when these entities volunteer to make themselves LIABLE for the tax by making a voluntary agreement (W-4 Tax Form) with their employer (Governmental). If the term “Income” is a subject that could be taxed, then why do you suppose it is not a taxable subject in the “INDEX” of the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26) under the caption, “Liability for tax?” There is a old law maxim, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Knowledge is power! When you of the private sector file any federal tax form, you commit perjury. You also represent yourself as a federal employee impostor. Just remember, signing any form under penalties of perjury, you waive your 5th amendment right to self incrimination.

    Alvis Jenkins

  30. Hi. I was a fulltime student on financial aid with four kids, about twenty K cancelled debt per 1099-C, and only 500 earned income. Can I expect to get a return or should I had to have made more to even file? Please help.


  31. My problem is very complicated.
    16 years ago when my son was born i tried to take advantage of the earned income credit and due to some issues I was denied the return so the money could go to pay a bill. I fought the motion against me and won, but that made me regress from ever filing again.

    Maybe 10 or 11 years before I filed again and mind you I never really made more than 12,000 maybe. Also I still live with my children and their mother so yes she claims them and gets the earned income credit.

    Back to point 5 years ago I had a friend file my taxes for me and trusting them when they said I could file returns for the last 3 years and get more back i said cool.

    Instead I got a bill for around $600 in the mail.

    This upset me so in protest knowing full well it would build interest I refused to pay and did nothing to resolve it.

    Finally I filed this year thinking any money owed plus interest would be covered and wouldn’t you know it?
    It was covered alright.$1,600 and I still owe $30.

    I didn’t owe them anything in the first place.

    Can you give me some tips on how to resolve this or even begin to resolve it.

    I’m mad and completely ignorant as to where to begin.

    Thank you


  32. Earned Income credit may be available for many low income people even if you do not meet the minimum income for filing. It is worth looking into for many people. I worked a volunteer tax prep place last year and Earned income credit paid many people that would otherwise have not needed to file.


  33. Just wanted to throw this out there I see a LOT of questions regarding claiming children and nonworking parents. A parent cannot claim a child just on the precipice that the other parent is not working if child is living with said parent for more then 6 months out of the year and is primary caregiver. Tread very lightly with the IRS on that. I have seen tax preparers require proof from both sets of parents showing that child is being cared for by parent claiming child and I have seen parents hit with audits and back taxes for falsifying records for the tax credit. I say this only to warn you and and make you ask tje right questions in your tax preparation as the IRS does have 10 years to litigate after you.


  34. I am NOT employed, self or otherwise. I received a total of $11,700 from Social Security Retirement Benefits in 2014 and a total of $3,372 in 2014 from a small Pension Benefit Plan. A Gross Total of $15,072 For the Entire Year. QUESTION: DO I NEED TO FILE A 2014 FEDERAL AND STATE TAX RETURN? The State I Reside in is MISSOURI. Would greatly appreciate your comments. Thanking You In Advance!


  35. No matter whatyour earnings are u have to report it if not u will get yes everyone that made money has to file taxes.

    Calvin Collins

  36. If I made 3000 dollars altogether and I recieved a 1099, do I need to file?


  37. I am a 80 yr old widow.I rent an apt. I have no savings.
    I receive $2,300monthly,which is my late husbands SS and a
    percentage of his Navy pension.Do I have to file taxes and if I do what form do i get.

    Thank You very Much


  38. I get a 20 check from my retirement do I have to pay taxes on it thank you


  39. Welcome back! I’ve been wondering where is Madison. It’s nice to read your articles again.


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