Tax Tips: Who is required to file income taxes?

Determining whether or not you must file a federal tax return is pretty simple. It is usually based upon how much money you made, and whether you were over or under age 65. For those under age 65, single filers whose gross income was $8,750 or more must file a tax return, and married filing jointly filers whose gross income was $17,500 or more must file.

What is gross income? Basically all the money you made during the year, including wages, self-employment income, interest income, dividend income, and the like. Social security benefits are generally not included in gross income when determining whether or not you have to file.

There are also some specific situations in which you must file a tax return, even if you do not meet the gross income test above. If you were self-employed and had net income of $400 or more, you must file. You also must file if you received an advance earned income credit payments from your employer throughout 2007. And you must file if you owe taxes on things like money from retirement accounts or recapture of credits.

See the instructions for IRS Form 1040 for more details on whether or not you need to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you still should do so if you have a refund to claim. You will not get your refund unless you actually file a tax return.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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