Have you been wondering, “Do I need to file taxes? Is there a minimum income level requirement to file taxes?”

Federal tax filing requirements for dependent children are different than nondependent children.  


Dependent Child

In general, a dependent child is not required to file a federal tax return if their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than their Standard Deduction. The Standard Deduction for a dependent child is the lesser of (1) their earned income (compensation) plus $350, or (2) the annual Standard Deduction for a single taxpayer.


Nondependent Child

If your child cannot be claimed as a dependent, they must file a tax return if:

  • Unearned income (generally investment income) exceeds an amount set annually by the IRS, 
  • Earned income (compensation) exceeds the Standard Deduction, or
  • Net earnings from self-employment are $400 or more.

If a child does not meet the tax filing requirement, there is no need to withhold federal income tax from their compensation. To claim an exception from federal income tax withholding, complete Form W-4 by writing “exempt” in the space below Step 4(c).


Other Considerations

  • State tax filing requirements may differ from the federal filing requirement.
  • Tax filing is necessary to claim a refund of tax payments or to claim a refundable tax credit, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit. 
  • Kiddie Tax may apply if a dependent child’s unearned income exceeds an amount set annually by the IRS.