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Instructions for Form 1040

Filing Requirements(p7)

These rules apply to all U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and resident aliens.
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Do You Have To File?(p7)

Use Chart A, B, or C to see if you must file a return. U.S. citizens who lived in or had income from a U.S. possession should see Pub. 570. Residents of Puerto Rico can use TeleTax topic 901 (see page 91) to see if they must file.
Even if you do not otherwise have to file a return, you should file one to get a refund of any federal income tax withheld. You should also file if you are eligible for any of the following credits.
  • Making work pay credit.
  • Earned income credit.
  • Additional child tax credit.
  • American opportunity credit.
  • First-time homebuyer credit.
  • Credit for federal tax on fuels.
  • Adoption credit.
  • Refundable credit for prior year minimum tax.
  • Health coverage tax credit.
Exception for certain children under age 19 or full-time students.(p7)
If certain conditions apply, you can elect to include on your return the income of a child who was under age 19 at the end of 2010 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2010. To do so, use Form 8814. If you make this election, your child does not have to file a return. For details, use TeleTax topic 553 (see page 91) or see Form 8814.
A child born on January 1, 1987, is considered to be age 24 at the end of 2010. Do not use Form 8814 for such a child.
Resident aliens.(p7)
These rules also apply if you were a resident alien. Also, you may qualify for certain tax treaty benefits. See Pub. 519 for details.
Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens.(p7)
These rules also apply if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and both of the following apply. See Pub. 519 for details.
Specific rules apply to determine if you are a resident alien, nonresident alien, or dual-status alien. Most nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens have different filing requirements and may have to file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ. Pub. 519 discusses these requirements and other information to help aliens comply with U.S. tax law, including tax treaty benefits and special rules for students and scholars.