If income tax was withheld from your pay, or if you qualify for the earned income credit, the additional child tax credit, the health coverage tax credit, the refundable credit for prior year minimum tax, the first-time homebuyer credit, or the recovery rebate credit (see your tax package), you should file a return to get a refund even if you are not required to do so.taxmap/pubs/p554-001.htm#en_us_publink100043524
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, you must file a return if your gross income for the year was at least the amount shown on the appropriate line in Table 1-1. For more information, see the instructions for Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040-EZ, and Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. If you were a nonresident alien at any time during the year, the filing requirements that apply to you may be different from those that apply to U.S. citizens. See Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
Table 1-1. 2008 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers Note.
You must file a return if your gross income was at least the amount shown in the last column.
|IF your filing status is. . .||AND at the end of 2008 |
you were*. . .
|THEN file a return if your gross income** was at least. . .|
|Single||under 65||$ 8,950|
|65 or older|| 10,300|
|Head of household||under 65|| 11,500|
|65 or older||12,850|
|Married filing jointly***||under 65 (both spouses)||17,900|
|65 or older (one spouse)||18,950|
|65 or older (both spouses)||20,000|
|Married filing separately||any age||3,500|
|Qualifying widow(er) |
with dependent child
|65 or older||15,450|
|*||If you were born before January 2, 1944, you are considered to be 65 or older at the end of 2008.|
|**||Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Do not include social security benefits unless (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2008 or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040 or Publication 915, Social Security Benefits and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income. |
|***||If you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2008 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $3,500, you must file a return regardless of your age. |
Gross income is all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. If you are married and live with your spouse in a community property state, half of any income defined by state law as community income may be considered yours. The community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. For more information about community property, see Publication 555, Community Property.
For more information on what to include in gross income, see chapter 2.taxmap/pubs/p554-001.htm#en_us_publink100043526
If you are self-employed in a business that provides services (where the production, purchase, or sale of merchandise is not an income-producing factor), gross income from that business is the gross receipts.
If you are self-employed in a business involving manufacturing, merchandising, or mining, gross income from that business is the total sales minus the cost of goods sold. Then, to this figure, you add any income from investments and from incidental or outside operations or sources. See Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information.taxmap/pubs/p554-001.htm#en_us_publink100043527
If you could be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer (that is, you meet the dependency tests in Publication 501), special filing requirements apply. See Publication 501. taxmap/pubs/p554-001.htm#en_us_publink100043528
A personal representative of a decedent's estate can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the decedent's property.
If you are acting as the personal representative of a person who died during the year, you may have to file a final return for that decedent. You also have other duties, such as notifying the IRS that you are acting as the personal representative. Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, is available for this purpose.
When you file a return for the decedent, either as the personal representative or as the surviving spouse, you should write "DECEASED," the decedent's name, and the date of death across the top of the tax return.
If no personal representative has been appointed by the due date for filing the return, the surviving spouse (on a joint return) should sign the return and write in the signature area "Filing as surviving spouse."
For more information, see Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.taxmap/pubs/p554-001.htm#en_us_publink100043529
If you are the surviving spouse, the year your spouse died is the last year for which you can file a joint return with that spouse. After that, if you do not remarry, you must file as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, head of household, or single. For more information about each of these filing statuses, see Publication 501.
If you remarry before the end of the year in which your spouse died, a final joint return with the deceased spouse cannot be filed. You can, however, file a joint return with your new spouse. In that case, the filing status of your deceased spouse for his or her final return is married filing separately.
The level of income that requires you to file an income tax return changes when your filing status changes (see Table 1-1). Even if you and your deceased spouse were not required to file a return for several years, you may have to file a return for tax years after the year of death. For example, if your filing status changes from filing jointly in 2007 to single in 2008 because of the death of your spouse, and your gross income is $16,000 for both years, you must file a return for 2008 even though you did not have to file a return for 2007.