Do Teens Need to File a Tax Return?

February 19, 2018
Posted in Student Tips
February 19, 2018 ACS

According to the IRS, all taxpayers are required to file a federal income tax return. So, that might lead you to believe a working teenager must complete a return in all circumstances. As it turns out, the rules are just a tad more complicated than that…

Dependent or not? If your child is not eligible to be claimed as your dependent, the rules regarding their tax filing status are the same as those for adults. In order to be claimed as a dependent, your child:

  • must be under the age of 19, or 24 if a full-time student
  • must live with you for more than half of the year (unless he or she lives outside of the home due to educational reasons)
  • does not provide more than half of his/her own financial support

Again, if your teenager cannot be claimed as your dependent, they must file a tax return and follow the rules that apply to all adult taxpayers.

How much is their earned income? If your teenager is a dependent and also earned more than $6,350 last year, he or she must file a tax return. If earnings fell short of this mark, filing a return is not require… But might be a good idea, since he or she might be due a refund of overpaid taxes.

Does your teen have investment income? If your child’s investment income (earned through interest and dividend payments, for example) exceeds $1,050, he or she must file a return. In some cases you can simply include this income on your own return. You should consult with a tax professional, who can analyze both scenarios and help you choose the most advantageous way to file.

Remember to claim deductions. Once your teen heads off to college, remember that you can claim education tax credits. These credits can be easy for parents to overlook, because they’re a brand new opportunity that you haven’t accessed before.

Always work with a skilled tax professional, especially when your tax situation changes and becomes more complicated. Remember, your income (according to your tax return) will be used to calculate your child’s financial aid package for college. So, you want to be sure that everything is complete and accurate.


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