When Does a Dependent File a Tax Return?

When Does a Dependent File a Tax Return?

March 21, 2020

As tempting as it may seem, if you have a dependent earning their own money, you can’t just add them to your income tax filing and get their money back. If they’re incapable of filing their own return (for example, a very young child or a disabled dependent), you’ll need to do so on their behalf. Filing a dependent tax return in Hayward, CA is a relatively simple process, much like filing your own taxes. Read on to learn more about how it works.

Who qualifies as a dependent?

The tax code defines dependents as minor children or dependents, who are either a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien or a resident of Canada or Mexico. They must receive half their total support from you each year, and can’t claim anyone as a dependent on their own tax return. Finally, they can’t file a joint tax return themselves.

Of course, that’s not all—the tax code has very specific provisions for adult children as well as other kinds of dependents, including foster children and disabled or unemployed/underemployed adults who live with you. If you’re not sure whether a person qualifies as a dependent, consult your tax software or a tax professional. They can be a source of a hefty tax deduction, so it’s worth learning who you can claim, and how.

When dependents must file

Dependents are required to file once they’ve met certain qualifications, such as an income threshold. This is affected by marital status, age and even blindness. Both earned income (from wages) and unearned income (Social Security, child support and more) count against this income threshold in different ways.

Other factors come into play, as well, such as if they made over $400 in self-employment or worked for a church or church-controlled organization that’s exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

If you, as a parent, are filing on behalf of your child, be sure to sign that it was prepared “by [your name] on behalf of [minor child’s name].”

When parents can claim income

Parents can’t claim a child’s earned income, but they may be able to claim their child’s unearned income. For example, interest and dividend income of $10,500 and under can be claimed on a parent’s tax return, which you may have heard referred to as a “kiddie tax”—it’s designed to keep parents from shifting assets into their names in order to get a better rate.

The tax laws can be confusing, which is why if you’re unsure who qualifies as a dependent and whether you can claim them on your taxes, you’re best off consulting a professional.

Dependent tax returns in Hayward, CA

When you need assistance filing your dependent tax returns in Hayward, CA, Menjivar & Company CPAs, Inc. is happy to help. Our skilled team is familiar with the latest in the tax code so we can maximize your refund and make sure you’ve claimed all your eligible deductions. Call us today to get started and take the pressure out of tax time.

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