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2020 US tax return: what's the minimum income to file taxes?

Depending on their earnings, US taxpayers may not have to submit a tax return. Here's a breakdown of the income requirements for filing taxes.

The IRS budget has been cut sharply over the past decade, but President Trump has suggested spending an extra $362 million on tax enforcement next year.
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Taxpayers in the United States have until 15 April 2021 to submit their federal income tax return for 2020 - but people whose earnings didn't reach a certain level do not have to file.

Here's an overview of how much you need to have earned in 2020 to be required to complete a US tax return this year.

Income requirements for most people

For most taxpayers, a tax return must be filed if your income exceeded the following minimum income limits last year:

Filing statusAge at end of 2020Minimum gross income
SingleUnder 65$12,400
Single65 or over$14,050
Married joint filerBoth spouses under 65$24,800
Married joint filerOne spouse under 65$26,100
Married joint filerBoth spouses over 65$27,400
Married separate filerAny$5
Head of householdUnder 65$18,650
Head of household65 or over$20,300
Qualifying widow(er)Under 65$24,800
Qualifying widow(er)65 or over$26,100

Source: IRS

IRS information sheet with further details

Income requirements for dependents

If you are claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return, a different set of income requirements apply to you. Dependents whose earnings are over the following minimums must file a 2020 return:

                                 Single                                 Married
Age at end of 2020:Under 6565 or over65 or over and blindUnder 6565 or over65 or over and blind
Unearned income above:$1,100$2,750$4,400$1,100$2,400$3,700
Earned income above:$12,400$14,050$15,700$12,400$13,700$15,000
Gross income above larger of:$1,100 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $350$2,750 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $2,000$4,400 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $3,650$1,100 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $350$2,400 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $1,650$3,700 or earned income (max. $12,050) + $2,950

*Married dependents must file a tax return if their income was at least $5 and their spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

Source: IRS

Further IRS information on filing if you're a dependent (including definitions of earned, unearned and gross income)

Other situations in which you'll need to file a tax return

According to the IRS, you must also file a tax return if, for example:

  • You are self-employed and had net earnings of at least $400 in 2020
  • You owe any special taxes
  • You earned $108.28 or more from a "church or a qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes".

Full IRS list of other situations in which you must file a return


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