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Who needs to file taxes in the U.S.: Understanding your filing requirements

Most Americans are required to file taxes, with 144.5 million individuals and couples having filed a tax return in 2020 out of the 176.2 million who could. The obligation to file taxes primarily depends on your income, filing status, and age. However, there are special situations where you might have to file a tax return, even if your income is below the minimum threshold. These situations include owing alternative minimum tax, having net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more, having health insurance from a state or federal marketplace, and others.

The IRS sets minimum income thresholds for each filing status, such as single, married filing jointly, head of household, and others. If you’re still unsure, the IRS provides an interactive tool to help you determine your filing requirement.


Even if you’re not required to file a tax return, you may want to file one to claim tax credits and overpayments that can result in money returned to you. These credits include the earned income tax credit, additional child tax credit, American opportunity credit, premium tax credit, and others.

If you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, your tax filing requirements are different.

In conclusion, it’s important to understand your tax filing requirements to avoid potential penalties and to take advantage of available tax credits and overpayments. The IRS provides resources to help you determine your filing obligation and take advantage of any tax benefits.

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