The minim income to file taxes refers to the actual income earned. If your 2020 income is less than the limit, you aren’t obligated to file a tax return in 2021.
For almost all taxpayers, if the income earned in 2020 is less than the standard deduction they’re eligible to claim, they aren’t required to file a federal income tax return.
This only applies to the income earned though. For example, if your taxable income is less than $0, you still need to file a tax return. The bottom line is the income earned during the course of that tax year must be less than the standard deduction. Here are the minimum income limits to file a tax return.
|Filing Status||Minimum Income (2020)|
|Married Filing Separately||$5|
|Married Filing Jointly||$25,200|
|Head of Household||$18,950|
Legally Blind, Aged 65, and Joint Returns
There are certain circumstances where your income can be higher than what’s stated above. If you’re over the age of 65 or legally blind for tax purposes, you get a higher minimum income limit.
If you’re over the age of 65 or legally blind, you get an extra $1,300. This is doubled for joint filers if both you and your spouse is over 65 or legally blind. So add an extra $1,300 or $2,600 on top of the amounts above.
As to why the minimum income to file taxes for those who are married filing separately is $5, you may think it’s a typo. It isn’t. The Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to file taxes jointly if they are married. Surely, by filing a joint return, you get way more than a higher minimum income to file taxes. Joint filers can benefit from certain tax deductions and credits that are only available to them.
On the side of the IRS, a joint return means less work for the agency. Since two taxpayers file a single return, it allows the IRS to process to taxpayer’s tax return at once. Due tho this, the IRS encourages taxpayers to file a joint return.