Do You Really Need To File A Tax Return?

As a U.S. taxpayer preparing to file your 2018 taxes, there are a few things you should consider. First, you will want to determine if you need to file and, if so, the best way to file for your situation.

First, Some Changes to Note

For the tax year 2018, all individual taxpayers will file using the new Form 1040. Forms 1040A and 1040EZ are no longer available.  Taxpayers who previously filed these forms will now file Form 1040. The new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach allowing individuals to add only the schedules they need to their 2018 federal tax return. Taxpayers with more complicated returns will need to complete one or more of the new Form 1040 Schedules. This group of taxpayers includes those who claim certain deductions or credits, or who owe additional taxes.

If you filed your federal tax return electronically last year, you may not notice any changes, as the tax return preparation software will automatically use your answers to the tax questions to complete the Form 1040 and any needed schedules.

Here Are Three More Things To Keep In Mind As You Prepare To File Your Taxes:

Who is required to file?

In most cases, income, filing status, and age determine if you must file a tax return. Other rules may apply if you are self-employed or if you are a dependent of another person. For example, if you are single and younger than age 65, you must file if your income was at least $12,000. This, of course, is just one example as there are many other instances when a taxpayer must file.

Filing to get a refund

Even if you are not required to file, you should consider filing a tax return if you can get money back. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund:

  • Did my employer withhold federal income tax from my pay?
  • Did I make estimated tax payments?
  • Did I overpay on my 2017 tax return and have it applied to 2018?
  • Am I eligible for certain refundable credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

To qualify for EITC you must have earned income from working for someone or from running or owning a business or farm and meet basic rules. And, you must either meet additional rules for workers without a qualifying child or have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules for you.

The scenarios presented above are oversimplified explanations as to whether or not someone needs to file a tax return. If you are uncertain, contact the IRS or a tax professional.

Some things are better not left to chance.

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