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Do I have to file a federal income tax return?

In general, you must file a federal income tax return if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien and your gross income equals or exceeds a specified figure. The applicable gross income figure depends on several factors, including your filing status and age. There are also special filing requirements for dependents.

For tax years 2010 and 2011, you probably need to file a federal income tax return if your gross income equals or exceeds the following figures:

 

2010

2011

Single

$9,350

$9,500

--age 65 or over

$10,750

$10,950

Married filing jointly

$18,700

$19,000

--one spouse 65 or over

$19,800

$20,150

--both 65 or over

$20,900

$21,300

Married filing separately

$3,650

$3,700

Head of household

$12,050

$12,200

--age 65 or over

$13,450

$13,650

Different rules apply if someone else can claim you as a dependent. Generally speaking, a dependent must file a tax return if his or her unearned income exceeds $950 (in 2010 and 2011).

Even if your gross income does not exceed the levels specified, you may still be required to file an income tax return in certain cases. For example, you are required to file a return if your net self-employment earnings are equal to or greater than $400, if you are subject to the alternative minimum tax, or if you are a nonresident alien with a tax liability not covered by withholding. Additional rules may apply. For further information, consult a tax professional.



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