Taxes and You: Individual Taxes Explained

 Individual taxes can be extremely complicated at first. Otherwise, millions of Americans would not rely upon tax advisors, preparation services such as H&R Block, and elaborate software packages such as Turbotax. To help understand individual taxes, consider the following:

Individual Taxes


Do I need to file?

In general, yes. However, there are some who are not required to file. In general, if you are filing single and make under $8450 annually or married and joint filing making under $16,900 together, you do not need to file. Those who file married separately usually only need to file if either of the spouses had more than $3,300 in income last year, while heads of households making under $10,850 do not need to file.

Qualifying widowers with dependents can often make up to $13,600 before being required to file individual taxes. For those taxpayers over the age of sixty-five, the amounts may be higher. Review the applicable IRS paperwork for revised figures and any specific figures that may be applicable to your individual tax situation if you are over sixty-five. Additionally, if you have netted more than $400 annually from self-employment, you are required to file taxes.

Can I file?

Even if you’re not required by the IRS to file individual taxes, it can be a really good idea to send off taxes if you’ve had federal withholdings, you have children and can qualify for the earned income credit, or if you qualify for the health tax coverage credit.

Can I split my individual returns?

Using a mailed check, no. However, if you elect for direct deposit, you may be eligible to split tax returns between multiple banking accounts. This is nice for married couples filing jointly who want to split a tax return.

What if I’ve gotten married and/or changed my name?

Your tax return paperwork has a space to enter that sort of information. Also, you can not file married if you haven’t been married. In general, filing married jointly is more beneficial to most taxpayers.

What if I owe individual taxes?

The IRS will be more than eager to help you with any questions related to paying their taxes. As a matter of fact, they’re renowned for finding people who owe taxes and asking them nicely, and then slightly less nicely to pay. If you do owe taxes make necessary arrangements to either pay them promptly or establish a payment schedule. Failure to pay taxes can result in all sorts of liens, wage garnishing, and possibly even charges against you.

What if I’ve been shipped off to Iraq, Afghanistan, etc?

In general, active-duty military members are allowed extra time to file their individual taxes. The IRS website at irs.gov has a publication entitled, “Individuals Serving in Combat Zone.”

I’m doing my own taxes. What tax form should I use?

For many, the answer may be that the easiest possible form. The 1040ez is the simplest individual tax form to use, with another easy form – the 1040A. If you do not qualify to fill a 1040A or 1040EZ, you more than likely will use the 1040 form.

To determine your eligibility, you should refer to the IRS publication #17, “Your Federal Income Tax For Individuals”

Do I qualify as a head of household?

That’s a rather straightforward question. To file as the head of a household, you will be required to provide more than half the costs of keeping up your home each year.

To determine if you’re a legitimate head of household, add up the total applicable annual tax period for the following: property tax, mortgage interest, rent, utility costs, maintenance, home insurance, food consumed on-premise, and other household expenses. From that total, deduct how much you paid. If you paid more than half of that amount you qualify as the head of household.

Because individual tax is constantly revised, challenged by courts, and a complex subject, this is offered not as advice. This is believed to be current at the time of publication and in good faith measures were taken to verify the accuracy of any presented numbers, methodologies, and strategies. However, this article is intended only as general information and does not supersede the rules of individual tax returns as published and governed by the IRS, Federal, and/or state law.

For specific advice consult a financial specialist, or legal counsel, or refer to applicable and current IRS documentation.

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