If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, whether you must file a return depends on three factors:
- Your gross income,
- Your filing status, and
- Your age.
Gross Income – This includes all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. It also includes income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude all or part of it). Include part of your social security benefits if:
- You were married, filing a separate return, and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2009; or
- Half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly).
If either (1) or (2) applies, see the instructions for Form 1040 or 1040A, or Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to figure the social security benefits you must include in gross income.
Filing Status - Your filing status depends on whether you are single or married and on your family situation. Your filing status is determined on the last day of your tax year, which is December 31 for most taxpayers.
Age – If you are 65 or older at the end of the year, you generally can have a higher amount of gross income than other taxpayers before you must file. See Table 1-1. You are considered 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. For example, if your 65th birthday is on January 1, 2010, you are considered 65 for 2009.
If you are a dependent (one who meets the dependency tests in chapter 3), see Table 1-2 to find whether you must file a return.
Responsibility of parent – Generally, a child is responsible for filing his or her own tax return and for paying any tax on the return. But if a dependent child who must file an income tax return cannot file it for any reason, such as age, then a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child. If the child cannot sign the return, the parent or guardian must sign the child’s name followed by the words “By (your signature), parent for minor child.”
Child’s earnings – Amounts a child earns by performing services are his or her gross income. This is true even if under local law the child’s parents have the right to the earnings and may actually have received them. If the child does not pay the tax due on this income, the parent is liable for the tax.
Certain Children Under Age 19 or Full-Time Students
If a child’s only income is interest and dividends (including capital gain distributions and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends), the child was under age 19 at the end of 2009 or was a full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2009, and certain other conditions are met, a parent can elect to include the child’s income on the parent’s return. If this election is made, the child does not have to file a return.
You are self-employed if you:
- Carry on a trade or business as a sole proprietor,
- Are an independent contractor,
- Are a member of a partnership, or
- Are in business for yourself in any other way.
Self-employment can include work in addition to your regular full-time business activities, such as certain part-time work you do at home or in addition to your regular job.
You must file a return if your gross income is at least as much as the filing requirement amount for your filing status and age (shown in Table 1-1). Also, you must file Form 1040 and Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax, if:
- Your net earnings from self-employment (excluding church employee income) were $400 or more, or
- You had church employee income of $108.28 or more.
Use Schedule SE (Form 1040) to figure your self-employment tax. Self-employment tax is comparable to the social security and Medicare tax withheld from an employee’s wages. For more information about this tax, see Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business.
IRS – Live Telephone Assistance
When calling, you may ask questions to help you prepare your tax return, or ask about a notice you have received.
Telephone Assistance for Individuals:
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).
Or, visit www.IRS.org
More information here.