Who Must File a Tax Return?

tax preparer - who must file a tax return
tax preparer - who must file a tax return

In 2010, just under 139 million individual tax returns were filed with the IRS. That number, down about 2% from 2009, represents fewer than half of all households in the U.S. Clearly, not all households or people believe they must file a federal income tax return. So, who exactly has to file a return?

If you're a U.S. citizen or resident, that depends on three factors: (1) gross income, (2) filing status, and (3) age.

Gross income is defined in the Tax Code as "all income from whatever source derived" unless otherwise exempt. That sounds complicated, but more or less, think of your gross income as everything you receive before deductions. This includes wages, salary, employee compensation, investment income, self-employment income, unemployment benefits, pension, retirement income and "other income," including gambling and lottery winnings.

Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.
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