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Filing Basics

Who Must File a Return

Whether you must file a return depends on your gross income, filing status, and age.

Gross Income

Gross income includes all income that you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services. It does not include any income that is tax-exempt.

Filing Status

Your filing status is determined on the last day of the tax year, which is December 31 for calendar year taxpayers. Your filing status will be determined by whether you are single or married, and what your family situation is.


If you are age 65 or older on the last day of the tax year, you are allowed a higher amount of gross income before you are required to file a return. The table below lists the income limit amounts for the 2013 tax year. 

If your filing status is …and at the end of the year you were …*you must file if your gross income is at least …**
Single under 65
65 or older
Married Filing Jointly*** under 65 (both spouses)
65 or older (one spouse)
65 or older (both spouses)
Married Filing Separately any age $3,900
Head of Household under 65
65 or older
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child under 65
65 or older

* If you turn 65 on January 1, 2014, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2013.

** Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States (even if you may exclude part or all of it). Do not include Social Security benefits unless you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2013.

*** If you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2013 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $3,900, you must file a return regardless of your age.

Who Should File

Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you should if you are eligible to receive a tax refund. You should file if any of the following are true: