How do I find out if I'm required to file taxes?

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In a Nutshell

Federal Taxes: All taxpayers are eligible to claim a standard deduction from their taxable income. This amount is based on your filing status and household size. State Taxes: If you are required a Federal Tax return, you usually need to file a state tax return as well.

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad.  
Updated July 30, 2020


Federal Taxes: All taxpayers are eligible to claim a standard deduction from their taxable income. This amount is based on your filing status and household size. If your taxable income is above the deduction amount for the year in question, you are required to file. If your income is below the deduction amount, you are not required to file. You can find the deduction amount for 2018 on the IRS website here, and for 2017 here. For all other years, simply change the year in the URL that appears when you click on these links to the year in question.

State Taxes: If you are required a Federal Tax return, you usually need to file a state tax return as well. If you are not required to file a Federal Tax return, you do not need to file a state tax return either. Some states do not require you to file solely based on your Federal filing status. You can find the specific requirements for your state here.

For more information about when you do and do not have to file taxes, you can"

  • Call a tax professional and ask for a free consult.

  • Sign up and use an online tax tool like Turbo Tax of H&R Block. Each has a free screener that will let you know if you are not required to file.

  • Contact state or local information services (ex. 311) to see if your state has any free tax preparation services available.

  • Visit your state's tax website or the IRS website to review tax filing income requirements.



About the author
Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad

Kristin is a recipient of Harvard Law School’s Public Welfare Foundation A2J Tech Fellowship. At Harvard Law, she served as a member of the Harvard Defenders, the Women’s Law Association, and Harvard Law Negotiation Review. She was the 2016 – 2017 president of the Black Law Stude... read more

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