Income Taxes for Children

Do you need to file a tax return for your child?
If you're a parent, your child's taxable income is inherently linked to yours. Whether your child needs to file a tax return depends on a number of factors, including age and type of income. In some cases, your child's income can be reported on your return.

The IRS treats a child's income differently depending on whether the income is earned (from work) or unearned (from investments).

In general, your child must file a return if:
  1. His or her unearned income was more than $1,050 for 2015
  2. His or her earned income was more than $6,300 for 2015
  3. His or her gross income (earned and unearned income together) totals more than the larger of $1,050, or earned income (up to $6,300) plus $350. IRS Publication 929 is very helpful in sorting through the intricacies of the rules regarding whether or not your child needs to file. You may also want to consult with your tax professional and refer to the instructions for IRS Form 1040 for details.
Age requirements. 
These tax rates apply to any child who:
  • Is age 18 or under on December 31 and whose earned income does not exceed half the annual expenses for the child's support, or
  • Is a full-time student over 18 and under 24 on December 31 and whose earned income does not exceed half the annual expenses for the child's support.
What about a refund?
Even if your child isn't required to file a tax return, he or she should be sure to do so if he or she is owed a refund.

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