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Publication 17

Your Federal 
Income Tax


For Individuals

All material in this publication may be reprinted freely. A citation to Your Federal Income Tax (2015) would be appropriate.
The explanations and examples in this publication reflect the interpretation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of:
  • Tax laws enacted by Congress,
  • Treasury regulations, and
  • Court decisions.
However, the information given does not cover every situation and is not intended to replace the law or change its meaning.
This publication covers some subjects on which a court may have made a decision more favorable to taxpayers than the interpretation by the IRS. Until these differing interpretations are resolved by higher court decisions or in some other way, this publication will continue to present the interpretations by the IRS.
All taxpayers have important rights when working with the IRS. These rights are described in Your Rights as a Taxpayer in the back of this publication.

What's New(p1)

This section summarizes important tax changes that took effect in 2015. Most of these changes are discussed in more detail throughout this publication.
Future developments.(p1)
For the latest information about the tax law topics covered in this publication, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to
Information reporting about health coverage.(p1)
If you or someone in your family had health coverage in 2015, the provider of that coverage is required to send a Form 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C (with Part III completed) by January 31, 2016, that lists individuals in your family who were enrolled in the coverage and shows their months of coverage. Use this information to help complete your return. You do not need to attach these forms to your return. You may have had health care coverage for some or all of 2015 even if you didn’t receive a form with this information. See chapter 37 and the Form 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C Instructions for Recipient for more information.
Information reporting about employer offer of coverage.(p1)
If you or someone in your family was an employee in 2015, the employer may have sent you a Form 1095-C. Part II of Form 1095-C will show whether your employer offered you health insurance coverage and information about the offer. If you purchased health insurance coverage for 2015 through the Health Insurance Marketplace and wish to claim the premium tax credit, this information will help you see if you are eligible for the credit. You do not need to attach Form 1095-C to your return. If you do not wish to claim the premium tax credit for 2015, you do not need the information in Part II. Form 1095-C may include information in Part III if you, or others in your family, enrolled in an employer’s health plan. See chapter 37 for information about the premium tax credit.
Health care individual responsibility payment increased.(p1)
If you or someone in your household didn’t have qualifying health care coverage or qualify for a coverage exemption for one or more months of 2015, the amount of your shared responsibility payment may be much higher this year than it was last year. Like last year, you must do one of the following.
  • Indicate on your tax return that you, your spouse (if filing jointly), and anyone you can or do claim as a dependent had qualifying health care coverage throughout 2015.
  • Claim an exemption from the health care coverage requirement for some or all of 2015 and attach Form 8965 to your return.
  • Make a shared responsibility payment if, for any month in 2015, you, your spouse (if filing jointly), or anyone you can or do claim as a dependent didn’t have coverage and does not qualify for a coverage exemption.
See the Instructions for Form 8965 for details.
Requirement to reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit.(p1)
If you or a family member enrolled in health insurance through the Marketplace and advance payments of the premium tax credit were made to your insurance company to reduce your monthly premium payment, attach Form 8962 to your return to reconcile (compare) the advance payments with your premium tax credit for the year, which you figure on Form 8962. The Marketplace is required to send Form 1095-A by January 31, 2016, listing the advance payments and other information you need to figure your premium tax credit. Use Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962. Attach Form 8962 to your return. Do not attach Form 1095-A to your return. See chapter 37.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account.(p1)
This is a new type of savings account for individuals with disabilities and their families. For 2015, you can contribute up to $14,000. Distributions are tax‐free if used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified disability expenses. Don't deduct your contributions on your tax return. For details, see Pub. 907.
Due date of return.(p1)
File your tax return by April 18, 2016. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia—even if you do not live in the District of Columbia. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, you have until April 19, 2016. That is because of the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states. See chapter 1.
Public safety officers.(p1)
Certain amounts received because of the death of a public safety officer are nontaxable. See Pub. 525 for details.
Certain charitable contributions.(p1)
A special rule applies to cash contributions made between January 1, 2015, and April 15, 2015, to benefit the families of slain New York detectives Wenjian Liu or Rafael Ramos. See chapter 24.
Direct deposits of refund to a myRA® account.(p1)
You now can have your refund directly deposited to a new retirement savings program called a myRA®. This is a starter retirement account offered by the Department of the Treasury. See chapter 1.
Health coverage tax credit.(p1)
The health coverage tax credit, which expired at the end of 2013, has been reinstated retroactive to January 1, 2014. See chapter 38.
Additional child tax credit.(p1)
You can't claim the additional child tax credit if you file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. See chapter 34.
My Social Security Account.(p1)
Social security beneficiaries can now get a variety of information from the SSA website with a my Social Security account. See chapter 11.
Expired tax benefits.(p1)
At the time this publication was prepared for printing, certain tax benefits had expired. These included the following.
  • Tuition and fees deduction.
  • Deduction for educator expenses in figuring adjusted gross income.
  • Deduction for state and local general sales taxes.
  • The exclusion from income of qualified charitable distributions from IRAs.
  • Credit for certain nonbusiness energy property.
  • Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.
You can find out whether legislation extended these and other tax benefits to allow you to claim them on your 2015 return at
Application of one‐rollover‐per‐year limit for IRAs.(p1)
Starting in 2015, you can make only one rollover from one IRA to another (or the same) IRA in any 1‐year period regardless of the number of IRAs you own. However, you can continue to make unlimited trustee‐to‐trustee transfers between IRAs because this type of transfer is not considered a rollover. Also, there is no limit to the number of rollovers from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA (also known as conversions). See chapter 17.


Listed below are important reminders and other items that may help you file your 2015 tax return. Many of these items are explained in more detail later in this publication.
Enter your social security number (SSN).(p1)
Enter your SSN in the space provided on your tax form. If you filed a joint return for 2014 and are filing a joint return for 2015 with the same spouse, enter your names and SSNs in the same order as on your 2014 return. See chapter 1.
Secure your tax records from identity theft.(p1)
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, SSN, or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. An identity thief may use your SSN to get a job or may file a tax return using your SSN to receive a refund. For more information about identity theft and how to reduce your risk from it, see chapter 1.
Taxpayer identification numbers.(p1)
You must provide the taxpayer identification number for each person for whom you claim certain tax benefits. This applies even if the person was born in 2015. Generally, this number is the person's social security number (SSN). See chapter 1.
Foreign source income.(p1)
If you are a U.S. citizen with income from sources outside the United States (foreign income), you must report all such income on your tax return unless it is exempt by law or a tax treaty. This is true whether you live inside or outside the United States and whether or not you receive a Form W-2 or Form 1099 from the foreign payer. This applies to earned income (such as wages and tips) as well as unearned income (such as interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, rents, and royalties).
If you live outside the United States, you may be able to exclude part or all of your foreign earned income. For details, see Pub. 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.
Foreign financial assets.(p2)
If you had foreign financial assets in 2015, you may have to file Form 8938 with your return. Check Form 8938 and its instructions or for details.
Automatic 6-month extension to file tax return.(p2)
You can get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your tax return. See chapter 1.
Include your phone number on your return.(p2)
To promptly resolve any questions we have in processing your tax return, we would like to be able to call you. Please enter your daytime telephone number on your tax form next to your signature and occupation. If you are filing a joint return, you can enter either your or your spouse's daytime phone number.
Payment of taxes.(p2)
You can pay your taxes online, by phone, or by check or money order. You can make a direct transfer from your bank account or use a credit or debit card. See chapter 1.
Faster ways to file your return.(p2)
The IRS offers fast, accurate ways to file your tax return information without filing a paper tax return. You can use IRS e-file (electronic filing). See chapter 1.
Free electronic filing.(p2)
You may be able to file your 2015 taxes online for free. See chapter 1.
Change of address.(p2)
If you change your address, notify the IRS. See Change of Address in chapter 1.
Refund on a late filed return.(p2)
If you were due a refund but you did not file a return, you generally must file your return within 3 years from the date the return was due (including extensions) to get that refund. See chapter 1.
Frivolous tax returns.(p2)
The IRS has published a list of positions that are identified as frivolous. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000. See chapter 1.
Filing erroneous claim for refund or credit.(p2)
You may have to pay a penalty if you file an erroneous claim for refund or credit. See chapter 1.
Privacy Act and paperwork reduction information.(p2)
The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 require that when we ask you for information we must first tell you what our legal right is to ask for the information, why we are asking for it, how it will be used, what could happen if we do not receive it, and whether your response is voluntary, required to obtain a benefit, or mandatory under the law. A complete statement on this subject can be found in your tax form instructions.
Preparer e-file mandate.(p2)
Most paid preparers must e-file returns they prepare and file. Your preparer may make you aware of this requirement and the options available to you.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.(p2)
If you want to confidentially report misconduct, waste, fraud, or abuse by an IRS employee, you can call 1-800-366-4484 (call 1-800-877-8339 if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, and are using TTY/TDD equipment). You can remain anonymous.
Photographs of missing children.(p2)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
This publication covers the general rules for filing a federal income tax return. It supplements the information contained in your tax form instructions. It explains the tax law to make sure you pay only the tax you owe and no more.

How this publication is arranged.(p2)

This publication closely follows Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. It is divided into six parts which cover different sections of Form 1040. Each part is further divided into chapters which generally discuss one line of the form. Do not worry if you file Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. Anything included on a line of either of these forms is also included on Form 1040.
The table of contents inside the front cover and the index in the back of the publication are useful tools to help you find the information you need.

What is in this publication.(p2)

The publication begins with the rules for filing a tax return. It explains:
  1. Who must file a return,
  2. Which tax form to use,
  3. When the return is due,
  4. How to e-file your return, and
  5. Other general information.
It will help you identify which filing status you qualify for, whether you can claim any dependents, and whether the income you receive is taxable. The publication goes on to explain the standard deduction, the kinds of expenses you may be able to deduct, and the various kinds of credits you may be able to take to reduce your tax.
Throughout the publication are examples showing how the tax law applies in typical situations. Also throughout the publication are flowcharts and tables that present tax information in an easy-to-understand manner.
Many of the subjects discussed in this publication are discussed in greater detail in other IRS publications. References to those other publications are provided for your information.
Small graphic symbols, or icons, are used to draw your attention to special information. See Table 1 for an explanation of each icon used in this publication.

What is not covered in this publication.(p2)

Some material that you may find helpful is not included in this publication but can be found in your tax form instruction booklet. This includes lists of:
If you operate your own business or have other self-employment income, such as from babysitting or selling crafts, see the following publications for more information.

Help from the IRS.(p2)

There are many ways you can get help from the IRS. These are explained under How To Get Tax Help in the back of this publication.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments from Click on "More Information" and then on "Give us feedback."
Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question not answered by this publication, check and How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.

IRS mission.(p2)

Provide America's taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.

Table 1. Legend of Icons

caution Items that may cause you particular problems, or an alert about pending legislation that may be enacted after this publication goes to print.
compute An Internet site or an email address.
envelope An address you may need.
files Items you should keep in your personal records.
pencil Items you may need to figure or a worksheet you may need to complete and keep for your records.
phone An important phone number.
taxtip Helpful information you may need.