2016-2017 Federal Tax Filing Gross Income Requirements – How Much You Have to Make or Earn to File Taxes


Every year I get asked about income requirements for filing taxes when publishing tax filing due dates for the upcoming tax season.  While there are other factors that also drive if you have to file taxes or not, how much you earn (gross income) is a primary driver. Gross income covers monies from goods, property, and services that isn’t exempt from tax.

The table below shows the minimum gross income requirements for having to file a tax return, based on filing status and age. Or said another way the table shows the amount of your earnings (lower threshold) at which you would be legally required to file taxes. If you make below these gross income amounts then income is not a driver for you having to file taxes. 

Tax Year-Filing YearSingle FilersMarried Filing JointlyHead of HouseholdMarried Filing Separately
($11,900 if 65 or older)
$20,650 (both spouses)
$21,900 (if one spouse > 65yrs)
$23,150 (both spouses > 65yrs)
($14,900 if 65 or older)
$4,050 (any age)
2015-2016 $10,300
($11,850 if 65yrs or older)
$20,600 (both spouses)
$21,850 (if one spouse > 65yrs)
$23,100 (both spouses > 65yrs)
($14,800 if 65 or older)
$4,000 (any age)

Income estimates for the upcoming 2016-2017 tax filing season are estimates only and will be finalized by the IRS towards the end of the year. I will update as soon as available. The IRS generally bases the income levels on the standard deduction plus one exemption. When determining whether you need to file a return, you don’t include tax-exempt income when figuring your gross income. Also the minimum income thresholds for requiring a tax filing for those who are self-employed (e.g freelancers or S-corp owners) is $400.

Naturally the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recommends that all adults file a tax return even if their income is below the above thresholds. Obviously, the IRS wants to have everyone pay their taxes but it is also an important way for the government to ensure that it pays out subsidies, stimulus payments and tax credits to the groups that they were intended for. So if in doubt, just file a return. Better to be compliant and get tax credits you are due as opposed to being on hook for a penalty or having to face an IRS audit for not filing.

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