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How Old Do You Have to Be to File Taxes?

Written by Eva Rosenberg on December 3, 2014 in Tax  |   24 comments

Is there an age limit when it comes to paying taxes? No. Age has nothing to do with taxes; it’s all about income. Regardless of your age, if you work for someone who pays you or if you own a business, you are required to…

how-old-do-you-have-to-be-to-file-taxesIs there an age limit when it comes to paying taxes? No. Age has nothing to do with taxes; it’s all about income. Regardless of your age, if you work for someone who pays you or if you own a business, you are required to pay taxes.

Qualifying children who did not earn more than one-half of their own support, are either under age 19 at the end of the year, or are full-time students under 24 may be taxed—and they may be taxed at their parent’s rate in certain circumstances.

When do children pay their parent’s tax rate?

Whether the child pays taxes on his or her income depends on the tax forms filed. In 2014, a child who has dividend or interest income exceeding $2,000 will be taxed at his or her parents’ highest marginal tax rate if the parent files Form 8814, the Parents’ Election to Report Child’s Interest and Dividends.

The first $1,000 will be tax-free, and the second $1,000 will be taxed at 10 percent. After that, the income will be taxed at the parent’s top marginal tax rate vs. the lower long-term capital gains rate.

A parent may want to report a child’s investment income on the child’s tax return so that the parent can qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In order to receive the EITC, investment income must be less than $3,350 for the year.

(Read more: Six deductions to remember when paying taxes)

When does a child pay taxes at a lower rate?

Fortunately, if the child files his or her own return, he or she may pay less on this income. When a child files his or her own tax returns, that child’s investment income must be recorded on Form 8615, along with the parent’s tax rate. (Click here for information on figuring your child’s taxes as divorced parents.)

As long as a child is a dependent, that child cannot claim his or her own exemption. That child can, however, get a refund based on his or her withholding. If the child is in college, he or she may also qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps make college more affordable.

As far as earned income—wages, self-employment income, fellowships contingent upon work being performed, freelance income, and general partnership income—it’s a no-brainer that most adults will have to pay these taxes. Sometimes, even children may need to pay taxes on earned income.

In some cases, children may earn income (i.e., modeling work or entertainers). Others, as they get into their teens, get part-time jobs. If a child has employment income of $400 or more in any year, that child will have to file his or her own tax returns.

There’s no reason to start filing prematurely, but it does help to know when children must file their own tax returns. You may want to show your children how to do this in order to prepare them for the future.

Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com ®, where your tax questions are answered. She is the author of several books and ebooks, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. betty p. says:

    Is the $400.00 employment income that you stated requiring a child to file his own return self employment income or does that include income from wages?

  2. Eva Rosenberg, your (@TaxMama) says:

    Hi Betty,

    If a child has a business and shows a profit of $400 or more, they are required to file a tax return – regardless of whether they had any other income or not.

    If they had $400 in wages, then there’s no tax return needed.


  3. Ecallaw says:

    My wife and I both receive disability. Our children receive benefits since we are disabled. They are 15 and under. Do we include their benefits on our taxes? That is the only income they receive.

  4. Tymelya says:

    I am 16 and I work and have a child to file for tax returns

  5. Junior m. says:

    My son is 17 and he live on his own can he file his own taxes?

  6. cassie says:

    My cousin is 17 with a child and she works . would she be able to file?

  7. Reneestar55 says:

    I am 17 & live with my mom but I am the only one working can I file?

  8. shonda says:

    Hi my son is 17 and in high school he’s made over $10,000 can I still carry him or he has to file his self.

  9. maliek says:

    does one of my parents have to claim me in order for me to file for taxes ?

  10. Jaquelin says:

    I am 17 i work and i have a son, would i still be able to file taxes on my own or someone else has to claim me and my son?

  11. Christina says:

    Hi I’m 20 ive been working since October can I file taxes

  12. Crystal says:

    I’m 16, I work in McDonald’s and I’m the only one working in my house because my parents are disabled can I file my taxes ?

  13. Shirley says:

    My child is 15 she work for about 2 month and hasnt work anymore does she get to file on her own or do i file for her

  14. CStory says:

    I am a 22 year old college student. I don’t have a job, and my family pays for my tuition. At what point will I have to start paying taxes?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Can my 17 year old file his own taxes?

  16. Kely P. says:

    I’m 16 and I just had a daughter. Someone told me that my mom should still put me in her income taxes. I have a job and I go to school. Should I do my taxes myself or leave my mom to put my name and my daughter’s name in her taxes?

  17. Jonnie says:

    Im 17 i work i made over 5,000 i live with my father could i file

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have someone who is 20 years old that lives in my home she isn’t in school or doesn’t work but i take care of her can i file taxes on her

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’m 14 I made 1900 dollars how much should I haft to pay in taxes

  20. concepcion woods says:

    Informative analysis ! I learned a lot from the details , Does anyone know if my assistant could possibly locate a blank Childs interest and dividends form version to use ?

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