Why Pay and Prepare Your Taxes

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Who Must File a Tax Return

Generally, if you are pay more than $600, you must file a tax return. The IRS says you must earn more than the standard deductions. See table below.

Table 1. 2021 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

IF your filing status is…AND at the end of 2021 you were…*THEN file a return if your gross income was at least…**
Singleunder 65 | $12,550
Single65 or older|$14,250
Head of householdunder 65 | $18,800
Head of household65 or older|$20,500
Married, filing jointlyunder 65 (both spouses)$25,100
Married, filing jointly65 or older (one spouse)$26,450
Married, filing jointly65 or older (both spouses)$27,800
Married, filing separatelyany age$5
qualifying widow(er)under 65 $25,100
qualifying widow(er)65 or older|$26,400
* If you were born before January 2, 1957, you’re considered to be 65 or older at the end of 2021. (If your spouse died in 2021, see Death of spouse, later. If you’re preparing a return for someone who died in 2021, see Death of taxpayer, later.
** Gross income means all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn’t exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Don’t include any social security benefits unless (a) you’re married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2021, or (b) one-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 (a) or (b) applies, see the Form 1040 and 1040-SR instructions to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income. Gross income includes gains, but not losses, reported on Form 8949 or Schedule D. Gross income from a business means, for example, the amount on Schedule C, line 7; or Schedule F, line 9. But in figuring gross income, don’t reduce your income by any losses, including any loss on Schedule C, line 7; or Schedule F, line 9.
*** If you didn’t live with your spouse at the end of 2021 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $5, you must file a return regardless of your age.

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