Tax Tip – Gross Income Filing Requirements for U.S. Citizens and Residents

For tax years before 2020, whether a taxpayer who is a U.S. citizen or resident must file a return depends on three factors:

(1) the taxpayer’s gross income;

(2) the taxpayer’s filing status; and

(3) the taxpayer’s age.

A taxpayer’s filing status is determined on the last day of the tax year. If the taxpayer is 65 or older at the end of the year, the taxpayer can have a higher amount of gross income before being required to file a tax return. A taxpayer is considered 65 on the day before the taxpayer’s 65th birthday. Thus, a taxpayer who turns 65 on January 1, 2021, is considered 65 at December 31, 2020.

For tax years after 2017 and before 2026, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) modified the filing requirements for those who are required to file a tax return. In the case of:

  1. An individual who is not married, such individual is required to file a tax return if the taxpayer’s gross income for the tax year exceeds the applicable standard deduction (Code Sec. 6012(f)(1)).
  2. Married individuals are required to file a return if that individual’s gross income, when combined with the individual’s spouse’s gross income for the tax year, is more than the standard deduction applicable to a joint return, provided that: (1) such individual and his spouse, at the close of the tax year, had the same household as their home; (2) the individual’s spouse does not make a separate return; and (3) neither the individual nor his spouse is a dependent of another taxpayer who has income (other than earned income) in excess of $500 (indexed for inflation) (Code Sec. 6012(f)(2)).

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This blog post is intended to serve solely as an aid in continuing tax education for Don Fitch Accountancy blog and email members. Due to the constantly changing nature of the subject of the materials, this product is not appropriate to serve as the sole resource for any federal tax, accounting opinion, tax return position, and must be supplemented for such purposes with other current authoritative materials. The information in this blog post has been carefully compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. In addition, Don Fitch Accountancy is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services and will not be held liable for any actions or suits based on this blog post, email, or comments made during the above presentation. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, seek the services of a competent professional.

(Updated 02/14/2021 09:16)

Published by Don Fitch, CPA

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