As the deadline for filing your tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) quickly approaches, you might find yourself asking questions about how to correctly file your tax return. If the thought of filling out 1099 or W-2 forms stresses you out more than you'd like it to, then you probably want to turn to one of your most trusted sources of help: your parents. So, can your parents do your taxes?
To correctly answer that question, you'll have to look at your personal financial situation and consider your parents' experience with filing taxes. For example, if you're a student and have a straightforward tax return due to limited income, you might be able to rely only on your parents' help to file your tax return by the April 17, 2018 deadline. If you have a more complicated financial situation, though, you'll want to make sure your parents have the right information regarding tax laws in order to correctly file your tax return.
Oh, and this all obviously depends on your parents' willingness to help you file your tax return. Your parents might be busy filing their own tax returns or simply might not have the time to help you before the deadline.
If your parents have said they will help you file your tax return (count yourself lucky and thank them profusely), here are the instances where that is the most feasible for both of you.
You can be claimed as a dependent, and you made less than $6,000 last year.
The minimum gross income for filing taxes is $6,300 if your parents can claim you as a dependent on their tax return. According to TurboTax, a "qualifying child" must meet certain requirements such as being related to the claimant and receiving more than half of their financial support from their parent(s). You should check with your parents after reading the full list of requirements to understand if you should be claimed as a dependent.
If you are claimed as a dependent and you made less than $6,300 last year, then you are not required to file a tax return for the year. There is an exception regarding your unearned income amount that might force you to file a tax return. If your income not earned from a job (but earned from investments or personal gifts) exceeds $1,500, then you are required to file a tax return as a dependent, according to the IRS.
You cannot be claimed as a dependent, and you made less than $10,000 last year.
You might not be required to file your own taxes if you made less than a certain amount of money in 2017. According to the IRS, an individual who is under the age of 65, whose filing status is "single," and whose gross income is less than $10,400 for the year is not required to file a tax return.
If you fall into this category, you're not legally required to file a tax return with the IRS, but according to The Balance, it's a good idea to file taxes if you made any taxable income at all last year. If you're eligible for any tax credits (like an earned income credit), you can only receive them if you file taxes.
So even if you aren't required to file because your income falls below the gross income threshold, you can ask your parents for help filing a tax return to see if you qualify for any tax credits. Once again, you'll want to check with your parents to see if they're comfortable enough with their knowledge of tax laws to help.
If your parents aren't able to help you, you can always consult a tax professional (or the many available tax apps) to ensure you are filing your taxes correctly. And if your parents also work with a tax accountant on their own taxes, they can likely recommend a trusted individual to help you with your own tax return.
Your parents will likely be there to help you however they can, so you can graciously accept their help when they offer it, and take their advice about who to talk to when they aren't so sure about what your tax return requires.