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IRS.gov Website
Publication 929
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203738

Filing Requirements(p2)

rule
Whether a dependent has to file a return generally depends on the amount of the dependent's earned and unearned income and whether the dependent is married, is age 65 or older, or is blind.
EIC
A dependent may have to file a return even if his or her income is less than the amount that would normally require a return. See Other Filing Requirements, later.
The following sections apply to dependents with: To find out whether a dependent must file, read the section that applies, or use Table 1 on page 3.
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203740

Earned Income Only(p3)

rule
A dependent who has only earned income must file a return if the total is more than the amount listed in the following table.
Marital StatusAmount
Single 
Under 65 and not blind$5,700
Either 65 or older or blind$7,100
65 or older and blind$8,500
Married* 
Under 65 and not blind$5,700
Either 65 or older or blind$6,800
65 or older and blind$7,900
*If a dependent's spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file a return if the dependent has $5 or more of gross income (earned and/or unearned).
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203742

Example.(p3)

William is 16. His mother claims an exemption for him on her income tax return. He worked part time on weekends during the school year and full time during the summer. He earned $5,800 in wages. He did not have any unearned income.
He must file a tax return because he has earned income only and his total income is more than $5,700. If he were blind, he would not have to file a return because his total income is not more than $7,100.
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203743

Unearned Income Only(p4)

rule
A dependent who has only unearned income must file a return if the total is more than the amount listed in the following table.
Marital StatusAmount
Single 
Under 65 and not blind$  950
Either 65 or older or blind$2,350
65 or older and blind$3,750
Married* 
Under 65 and not blind$  950
Either 65 or older or blind$2,050
65 or older and blind$3,150
*If a dependent's spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file a return if the dependent has $5 or more of gross income (earned and/or unearned).
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203745

Example.(p4)

Sarah is 18 and single. Her parents can claim an exemption for her on their income tax return. She received $970 of taxable interest and dividend income. She did not work during the year.
She must file a tax return because she has unearned income only and her total income is more than $950. If she were blind, she would not have to file a return because she has unearned income only and her total income is not more than $2,350.
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203746

Election to report child's unearned income on parent's return.(p4)

rule
A parent of a child under age 19 (or under age 24 if a full-time student) may be able to elect to include the child's interest and dividend income on the parent's return. See Parent's Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends in Part 2. If the parent makes this election, the child does not have to file a return.
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203747

Earned and  
Unearned Income(p4)

rule
Pencil
A dependent who has both earned and unearned income generally must file a return if the total income is more than line 5 of the following worksheet.
Filing Requirement Worksheet
for Most Dependents
1.Enter dependent's earned
income plus $300
 
2.Minimum amount $  950
3.Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter
the larger amount
 
4.Maximum amount 5,700
5.Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter
the smaller amount
 
6.Enter the dependent's gross
(total) income. If line 6 is more than line 5, the dependent must file an income tax return. If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 6 is $5 or more.
 
 
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203750

Table 1. 2010 Filing Requirements for Dependents

If your parent (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this table to see if you must file a return. 
 See the definitions of "dependent," "earned income," "unearned income," and "gross income" in the Glossary.  
Single dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?  
box  No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.   
 
  • Your unearned income was over $950.
  • Your earned income was over $5,700.
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of—
 
  
  • $950, or
  • Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $300.
   
box  Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.  
 
  • Your unearned income was over $2,350 ($3,750 if 65 or over and blind),
  • Your earned income was over $7,100 ($8,500 if 65 or older and blind),
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of—
 
  
  • $2,350 ($3,750 if 65 or older and blind), or
  • Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $1,700 ($3,100 if 65 or older and blind).
   
Married dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?  
box  No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.   
 
  • Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  • Your unearned income was over $950.
  • Your earned income was over $5,700.
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of—
 
  
  • $950, or
  • Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $300.
  
box  Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.   
 
  • Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  • Your unearned income was over $2,050 ($3,150 if 65 or over and blind),
  • Your earned income was over $6,800 ($7,900 if 65 or older and blind),
  • Your gross income was more than the larger of—
 
  
  • $2,050 ($3,150 if 65 or older and blind), or
  • Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $1,400 ($2,500 if 65 or older and blind).
   
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203752

Example 1.(p4)

Joe is 20, single, not blind, and a full-time college student. He does not provide more than half of his own support, and his parents claim an exemption for him on their income tax return. He received $200 taxable interest income and earned $2,750 from a part-time job.
He does not have to file a tax return because his total income of $2,950 ($200 interest plus $2,750 in wages) is not more than $3,050, the amount on line 5 of his filled-in Filing Requirement Worksheet for Most Dependents (shown next).
Filing Requirement Worksheet
for Most Dependents
1.Enter dependent's earned
income plus $300
 $ 3,050
2.Minimum amount 950
3.Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter
the larger amount
 3,050
4.Maximum amount 5,700
5.Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter
the smaller amount
 3,050
6.Enter the dependent's gross (total) income. If line 6 is more than line 5, the dependent must file an income tax return. If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 6 is $5 or more.  $ 2,950
 
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203754

Example 2.(p5)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that Joe had $600 taxable interest income.
He must file a tax return because his total income of $3,350 ($600 interest plus $2,750 wages) is more than $3,050, the amount on line 5 of his filled-in worksheet (shown next).
Filing Requirement Worksheet
for Most Dependents
1.Enter dependent's earned
income plus $300
 $ 3,050
2.Minimum amount 950
3.Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter
the larger amount
 3,050
4.Maximum amount 5,700
5.Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter
the smaller amount
 3,050
6.Enter the dependent's gross (total) income. If line 6 is more than line 5, the dependent must file an income tax return. If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 6 is $5 or more.  $ 3,350
 
Pencil
Age 65 or older or blind. A dependent who is age 65 or older or blind must file a return if his or her gross (total) income is more than line 7 of the following worksheet.
Filing Requirement Worksheet
for Dependents
Who Are Age 65 or Older or Blind
1.Enter dependent's earned
income plus $300
 
2.Minimum amount $ 950
3.Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter
the larger amount
 
4.Maximum amount 5,700
5.Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter
the smaller amount
 
6.Enter the amount from the
following table that applies to the dependent
 
 Marital StatusAmount 
 Single  
  Either 65 or older or blind$1,400 
  65 or older and blind$2,800 
 Married  
  Either 65 or older or blind$1,100 
  65 or older and blind$2,200 
7.Add lines 5 and 6. Enter the total 
8.Enter the dependent's gross (total) income. If line 8 is more than line 7, the dependent must file an income tax return. If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 8 is $5 or more  
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203758

Example 3.(p5)

The facts are the same as in Example 2 except that Joe is also blind. He does not have to file a return because his total income of $3,350 is not more than $4,450, the amount on line 7 of his filled-in Filing Requirement Worksheet for Dependents Who Are Age 65 or Older or Blind (shown next).
 
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203759
Pencil
Filing Requirement Worksheet
for Dependents
Who Are Age 65 or Older or Blind
1.Enter dependent's earned
income plus $300
 $3,050
2.Minimum amount 950
3.Compare lines 1 and 2. Enter
the larger amount
 3,050
4.Maximum amount 5,700
5.Compare lines 3 and 4. Enter
the smaller amount
 3,050
6.Enter the amount from the following table that applies to the dependent 1,400
 Marital StatusAmount 
 Single  
  Either 65 or older or blind$1,400 
  65 or older and blind$2,800 
 Married  
  Either 65 or older or blind$1,100 
  65 or older and blind$2,200 
7.Add lines 5 and 6. Enter the total 4,450
8.Enter the dependent's gross (total) income. If line 8 is more than line 7, the dependent must file an income tax return. If the dependent is married and his or her spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return, the dependent must file an income tax return if line 8 is $5 or more  $3,350
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203761

Other Filing Requirements(p5)

rule
Some dependents may have to file a tax return even if their income is less than the amount that would normally require them to file a return.
A dependent must file a tax return if he or she owes any other taxes, such as:
A dependent must also file a tax return if he or she:
taxmap/pubs/p929-001.htm#en_us_publink1000203762

Spouse itemizes.(p6)

rule
A dependent must file a return if the dependent's spouse itemizes deductions on a separate return and the dependent has $5 or more of gross income (earned and/or unearned).