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IRS.gov Website
Publication 17
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170357

Chapter 1
Filing Information(p4)


What's New(p4)


taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100033855
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account.(p4)
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.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100038318
Due date of return.(p4)
The due date to file your tax return is 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.
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Direct deposits of refund to a myRA® account.(p4)
You now can have your refund directly deposited to a new retirement savings program called myRA®. This is a starter retirement account offered by the Department of the Treasury.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100033856
Certain charitable contributions. (p4)
A special rule applies to cash contributions made between January 1, 2015, and April 15, 2015, to benefit slain New York detectives Wenjian Liu or Rafael Ramos. See Pub. 526 for details.
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Public safety officers.(p4)
Certain amounts received because of the death of a public safety officer are nontaxable. See Pub. 525 for details.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100033858
Additional child tax credit.(p4)
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 38 for details.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100033860
Health coverage tax credit. (p4)
The health coverage tax credit, which expired at the end of 2013, has been reinstated. See Who Should File, later. See chapter 38 for information about the health coverage tax credit.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100014212
Expired tax benefits.(p4)
At the time this publication was prepared for printing, certain tax benefits had expired. These included the deduction for educator expenses and the tuition and fees deduction. You can find out whether legislation extended these and other tax benefits to allow you to claim them on your 2015 return at www.irs.gov/pub17.
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Who must file.(p4)
Generally, the amount of income you can receive before you must file a return has been increased. See Table 1-1, Table 1-2, and Table 1-3 for the specific amounts.

Reminders(p4)


taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink100038320
File online.(p4)
Rather than filing a return on paper, you may be able to file electronically using IRS e-file. Create your own personal identification number (PIN) and file a completely paperless tax return. For more information, see Why Should I Use IRS e-file?, later.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170369
Change of address.(p4)
If you change your address, you should notify the IRS. You can use Form 8822 to notify the IRS of the change. See Change of Address, later, under What Happens After I File.
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Enter your social security number.(p4)
You must enter your social security number (SSN) in the spaces provided on your tax return. If you file a joint return, enter the SSNs in the same order as the names.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170372
Direct deposit of refund.(p4)
Instead of getting a paper check, you may be able to have your refund deposited directly into your account at a bank or other financial institution. See IRS Direct Deposit under Refunds, later. If you choose direct deposit of your refund, you may be able to split the refund among two or three accounts.
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Pay online or by phone.(p4)
If you owe additional tax, you may be able to pay online or by phone. See How To Pay, later.
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Installment agreement.(p4)
If you cannot pay the full amount due with your return, you may ask to make monthly installment payments. See Installment Agreement, later, under Amount You Owe. You may be able to apply online for a payment agreement if you owe federal tax, interest, and penalties.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170378
Automatic 6-month extension.(p4)
You can get an automatic 6-month extension to file your tax return if, no later than the date your return is due, you file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. See Automatic Extension, later.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170380
Service in combat zone.(p4)
You are allowed extra time to take care of your tax matters if you are a member of the Armed Forces who served in a combat zone, or if you served in the combat zone in support of the Armed Forces. See Individuals Serving in Combat Zone, later, under When Do I Have To File.
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Adoption taxpayer identification number.(p4)
If a child has been placed in your home for purposes of legal adoption and you won't be able to get a social security number for the child in time to file your return, you may be able to get an adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN). For more information, see Social Security Number (SSN), later.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170384
Taxpayer identification number for aliens.(p4)
If you or your dependent is a nonresident or resident alien who doesn't have and isn't eligible to get a social security number, file Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, with the IRS. For more information, see Social Security Number (SSN), later.
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Frivolous tax submissions.(p4)
The IRS has published a list of positions that are identified as frivolous. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000. Also, the $5,000 penalty will apply to other specified frivolous submissions. For more information, see Civil Penalties, later.
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This chapter discusses the following topics.
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Do I Have To
File a Return?(p4)

rule
You must file a federal income tax return if you are a citizen or resident of the United States or a resident of Puerto Rico and you meet the filing requirements for any of the following categories that apply to you.
  1. Individuals in general. (There are special rules for surviving spouses, executors, administrators, legal representatives, U.S. citizens and residents living outside the United States, residents of Puerto Rico, and individuals with income from U.S. possessions.)
  2. Dependents.
  3. Certain children under age 19 or full-time students.
  4. Self-employed persons.
  5. Aliens.
The filing requirements for each category are explained in this chapter.
The filing requirements apply even if you don't owe tax.
Deposit
Even if you don't have to file a return, it may be to your advantage to do so. See Who Should File, later.
EIC
File only one federal income tax return for the year regardless of how many jobs you had, how many Forms W-2 you received, or how many states you lived in during the year. Don't file more than one original return for the same year, even if you have not gotten your refund or have not heard from the IRS since you filed.
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Individuals—In General(p5)

rule
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, whether you must file a return depends on three factors:
  1. Your gross income,
  2. Your filing status, and
  3. Your age.
To find out whether you must file, see Table 1-1, Table 1-2, and Table 1-3. Even if no table shows that you must file, you may need to file to get money back. See Who Should File, later.
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Gross income.(p5)

rule
This includes all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax. It also includes income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude all or part of it). Include part of your social security benefits if:
  1. You were married, filing a separate return, and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2015; or
  2. Half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly).
If either (1) or (2) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040 or 1040A, or Pub. 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to figure the social security benefits you must include in gross income.
Common types of income are discussed in Part Two of this publication.
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Community income.(p5)
If you are married and your permanent home is in a community property state, half of any income described by state law as community income may be considered yours. This affects your federal taxes, including whether you must file if you don't file a joint return with your spouse. See Pub. 555, Community Property, for more information.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000250797
Nevada, Washington, and California domestic partners.(p5)
A registered domestic partner in Nevada, Washington, or California generally must report half the combined community income of the individual and his or her domestic partner. See Pub. 555.
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Self-employed individuals.(p5)
If you are self-employed, your gross income includes the amount on line 7 of Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business; line 1 of Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), Net Profit From Business; and line 9 of Schedule F (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Farming. See Self-Employed Persons, later, for more information about your filing requirements.
EIC
If you don't report all of your self-employment income, your social security benefits may be lower when you retire.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170403

Filing status.(p5)

rule
Your filing status depends on whether you are single or married and on your family situation. Your filing status is determined on the last day of your tax year, which is December 31 for most taxpayers. See chapter 2 for an explanation of each filing status.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170405

Age.(p5)

rule
If you are 65 or older at the end of the year, you generally can have a higher amount of gross income than other taxpayers before you must file. See Table 1-1. You are considered 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. For example, if your 65th birthday is on January 1, 2016, you are considered 65 for 2015.
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Table 1-1. 2015 Filing Requirements for Most Taxpayers

IF your filing status is... AND at the end of 2015 you   
 were...*
 THEN file a return if  
 your gross income
 was at least...**
single under 65$10,300 
  65 or older$11,850 
married filing jointly*** under 65 (both spouses)$20,600 
  65 or older (one spouse)$21,850 
  65 or older (both spouses)$23,100 
married filing separately any age$ 4,000 
head of household under 65$13,250 
  65 or older$14,800 
qualifying widow(er) with dependent child under 65$16,600 
65 or older$17,850 
*If you were born on January 1, 1951, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2015. (If your spouse died in 2015 or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2015, see Pub. 501.)
**Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Don't include any social security benefits unless (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2015 or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040 or 1040A or Pub. 915 to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income. Gross income includes gains, but not losses, reported on Form 8949 or Schedule D. Gross income from a business means, for example, the amount on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9. But, in figuring gross income, don't reduce your income by any losses, including any loss on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9.
***If you didn't live with your spouse at the end of 2015 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $4,000, you must file a return regardless of your age.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170411

Surviving Spouses,
Executors, Administrators,
and Legal Representatives(p5)

rule
You must file a final return for a decedent (a person who died) if both of the following are true.
For more information on rules for filing a decedent's final return, see Pub. 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170412

U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Living Abroad(p5)

rule
To determine whether you must file a return, include in your gross income any income you received abroad, including any income you can exclude under the foreign earned income exclusion. For information on special tax rules that may apply to you, see Pub. 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. It is available online and at most U.S. embassies and consulates. See How To Get Tax Help in the back of this publication.
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Residents of Puerto Rico(p6)

rule
If you are a U.S. citizen and also a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico, you generally must file a U.S. income tax return for any year in which you meet the income requirements. This is in addition to any legal requirement you may have to file an income tax return with Puerto Rico.
If you are a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico for the entire year, your U.S. gross income doesn't include income from sources within Puerto Rico. It does, however, include any income you received for your services as an employee of the United States or a U.S. agency. If you receive income from Puerto Rican sources that isn't subject to U.S. tax, you must reduce your standard deduction. As a result, the amount of income you must have before you are required to file a U.S. income tax return is lower than the applicable amount in Table 1-1 or Table 1-2. For more information, see Pub. 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions.
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Individuals With Income From
U.S. Possessions(p6)

rule
If you had income from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, special rules may apply when determining whether you must file a U.S. federal income tax return. In addition, you may have to file a return with the individual island government. See Pub. 570 for more information.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170418

Dependents(p6)

rule
If you are a dependent (one who meets the dependency tests in chapter 3), see Table 1-2 to find out whether you must file a return. You also must file if your situation is described in Table 1-3.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170421

Responsibility of parent.(p6)

rule
Generally, a child is responsible for filing his or her own tax return and for paying any tax on the return. If a dependent child must file an income tax return but cannot file due to age or any other reason, then a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child. If the child cannot sign the return, the parent or guardian must sign the child's name followed by the words "By (your signature), parent for minor child."
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Child's earnings.(p6)
Amounts a child earns by performing services are included in his or her gross income and not the gross income of the parent. This is true even if under local law the child's parent has the right to the earnings and may actually have received them. But if the child doesn't pay the tax due on this income, the parent is liable for the tax.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170423

Certain Children Under Age 19 or Full-Time Students(p6)

rule
If a child's only income is interest and dividends (including capital gain distributions and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends), the child was under age 19 at the end of 2015 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2015, and certain other conditions are met, a parent can elect to include the child's income on the parent's return. If this election is made, the child doesn't have to file a return. See Parent's Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends in chapter 31.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170425

Self-Employed Persons(p6)

rule
You are self-employed if you:
Self-employment can include work in addition to your regular full-time business activities, such as certain part-time work you do at home or in addition to your regular job.
You must file a return if your gross income is at least as much as the filing requirement amount for your filing status and age (shown in Table 1-1). Also, you must file Form 1040 and Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax, if:
  1. Your net earnings from self-employment (excluding church employee income) were $400 or more, or
  2. You had church employee income of $108.28 or more. (See Table 1-3.)
Use Schedule SE (Form 1040) to figure your self-employment tax. Self-employment tax is comparable to the social security and Medicare tax withheld from an employee's wages. For more information about this tax, see Pub. 334, Tax Guide for Small Business.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170428
Employees of foreign governments or international organizations.(p6)
If you are a U.S. citizen who works in the United States for an international organization, a foreign government, or a wholly owned instrumentality of a foreign government, and your employer isn't required to withhold social security and Medicare taxes from your wages, you must include your earnings from services performed in the United States when figuring your net earnings from self-employment.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170429
Ministers.(p6)
You must include income from services you performed as a minister when figuring your net earnings from self-employment, unless you have an exemption from self-employment tax. This also applies to Christian Science practitioners and members of a religious order who have not taken a vow of poverty. For more information, see Pub. 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170430

Table 1-2. 2015 Filing Requirements for Dependents

See chapter 3 to find out if someone can claim you as a dependent.

If your parents (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this table to see if you must file a return. (See Table 1-3 for other situations when you must file.)
 In this table, earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, and professional fees. It also includes taxable scholarship and fellowship grants. (See Scholarships and fellowships in chapter 12.) Unearned income includes investment-type income such as taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. It also includes unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, cancellation of debt, and distributions of unearned income from a trust. Gross income is the total of your earned and unearned income.
Single dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?
No.You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  Your unearned income was more than $1,050.
  Your earned income was more than $6,300.
  Your gross income was more than the larger of:
   $1,050, or
   Your earned income (up to $5,950) plus $350.
Yes.You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  Your unearned income was more than $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind).
  Your earned income was more than $7,850 ($9,400 if 65 or older and blind).
  Your gross income was more than the larger of:
   $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind), or
   Your earned income (up to $5,950) plus $1,900 ($3,450 if 65 or older and blind).
Married dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?
No.You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  Your unearned income was more than $1,050.
  Your earned income was more than $6,300.
  Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  Your gross income was more than the larger of:
   $1,050, or
   Your earned income (up to $5,950) plus $350.
Yes.You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  Your unearned income was more than $2,300 ($3,550 if 65 or older and blind).
  Your earned income was more than $7,550 ($8,800 if 65 or older and blind).
  Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  Your gross income was more than the larger of:
   $2,300 ($3,550 if 65 or older and blind), or
   Your earned income (up to $5,950) plus $1,600 ($2,850 if 65 or older and blind).
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170435

Aliens(p6)

rule
Your status as an alien (resident, nonresident, or dual-status) determines whether and how you must file an income tax return.
The rules used to determine your alien status are discussed in Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170436

Resident alien.(p6)

rule
If you are a resident alien for the entire year, you must file a tax return following the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens. Use the forms discussed in this publication.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170437

Nonresident alien.(p6)

rule
If you are a nonresident alien, the rules and tax forms that apply to you are different from those that apply to U.S. citizens and resident aliens. See Pub. 519 to find out if U.S. income tax laws apply to you and which forms you should file.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170438

Dual-status taxpayer.(p6)

rule
If you are a resident alien for part of the tax year and a nonresident alien for the rest of the year, you are a dual-status taxpayer. Different rules apply for each part of the year. For information on dual-status taxpayers, see Pub. 519.
taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000284899

Table 1-3. Other Situations When You Must File a 2015 Return

You must file a return if any of the five conditions below apply for 2015.
1. You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.
 a.Alternative minimum tax.
 b.Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.
 c.Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Schedule H by itself.
 d.Social security and Medicare tax on tips you didn't report to your employer or on wages you received from an employer who didn't withhold these taxes.
 e.Recapture of first-time homebuyer credit.
 f.Write-in taxes, including uncollected social security and Medicare or RRTA tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts.
 g.Recapture taxes.
2. You (or your spouse, if filing jointly) received health savings account, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA distributions.
3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.
4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.
5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1095-A showing the amount of the advance payments.


taxmap/pub17/p17-002.htm#en_us_publink1000170439

Who Should File(p6)

rule
Even if you don't have to file, you should file a federal income tax return to get money back if any of the following conditions apply.
  1. You had federal income tax withheld or made estimated tax payments.
  2. You qualify for the earned income credit. See chapter 36 for more information.
  3. You qualify for the additional child tax credit. See chapter 34 for more information.
  4. You qualify for the premium tax credit. See chapter 37 for more information.
  5. You qualify for the health coverage tax credit. See chapter 38 for more information.
  6. You qualify for the American opportunity credit. See chapter 35 for more information.
  7. You qualify for the credit for federal tax on fuels. See chapter 38 for more information.