11 Reasons to File a Tax Return Even If You Don’t Have To | Kiplinger

picture of happy man holding money in both handsSkip advert Filling out tax forms is a pain in the you-know-what. so why on earth would anyone file a tax recurrence if they do n’t have to ? Well, actually, there ‘s one very significant cause why – you might get a big, fat tax refund check in the mail. People with income under a certain come ( see table below ) are n’t required to file a tax recurrence because they wo n’t owe any tax. But if you qualify for certain tax credits or already paid some federal income tax, Uncle Sam might owe you a refund that you can lone get by filing a return. Think about that for a minute !

If you want to know more, here are 11 reasons why you might want to file a tax return even if you don’t have to. Although dealing with taxes can be a veridical drag, it ‘s credibly deserving it if you wind up with a a lot fat wallet in the end. ( note that the IRS wo n’t penalize you for filing a recently return if you ‘re getting a refund. )

Who Has to File a Tax Return?

here are the federal tax render filing requirements for the 2021 tax year :

Filing Status and Age at End of 2021  Filing Required If Income is At Least 
Single ; Under 65 $ 12,550
Single ; 65 or Older $ 14,250
Married Filing jointly ; Both Spouses Under 65 $ 25,100
Married Filing jointly ; One Spouse 65 or Older $ 26,450
Married Filing jointly ; Both Spouses 65 or Older $ 27,800
Married Filing Separately ; Any Age $ 5
head of Household ; Under 65 $ 18,800
head of Household ; 65 or Older $ 20,500
Qualifying Widow ( erbium ) ; Under 65 $ 25,100
Qualifying Widow ( emergency room ) ; 65 or Older $ 26,450

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Withheld Taxes

picture of IRS Form W-4Skip advert If an employer withheld union income taxes from your paycheck concluding year, or taxes were withheld from other sources of income in 2021, you might be entitled to a refund if you file a 2021 tax return. If you do n’t owe any tax – and, consequently, are n’t required to file a render – then it merely makes smell that any taxes you already paid should be refunded to you. But you won’t get that money back if you don’t file a 1040 form. You may besides be entitled to a refund if besides much Social Security or Tier 1 Railroad Retirement taxes were withheld from your 2021 paychecks. This could happen if you had multiple employers for 2021 and full wages of more than $ 142,800. If that ‘s the sheath, you can claim a refundable tax credit on your 2021 return for the amount withheld in excess of $8,853.60. ( If a “ refundable ” credit is worth more than the income tax you owe, the IRS will issue you a refund check mark for the difference. With a “ nonrefundable ” accredit, you do n’t get a refund because the tax you owe is n’t reduced below zero. ) If you had only one employer last year that withheld more than $ 8,853.60, you ca n’t claim the accredit. alternatively, the employer should adjust the tax for you. If you ca n’t get the employer to make an allowance, you can claim a refund using Form 843 .Skip advert

Taxes Paid

picture of lettered blocks spelling out "Estimated Tax"Skip advert withhold is n’t the only way you could have already paid taxes for 2021 to Uncle Sam. For case, if you received income as an independent contractile organ or were otherwise freelance, you may have made estimated tax payments final year. If you filed a 2020 tax restitution, you may have applied your refund from that return to your 2021 taxes ( it ‘s optional ). If you ‘re filing an extend return, you should have paid the amount of tax you expect to owe when you requested the annex with Form 4868. If you paid 2021 taxes in advance in one of these three ways, make sure you file a tax return even if your overall income is below the applicable filing threshold amount. That will allow you to get that money back .Skip advert

earned Income Tax Credit

picture of a woman delivering pizzaSkip advert The gain Income Tax Credit ( EITC ) is for lower income working people. If you qualify for this refundable accredit, then you decidedly want to file a tax return. For the 2021 tax class only, more workers without children qualify for the EITC. Plus, if your child does n’t have a Social Security number, you can now claim the EITC that ‘s available to childless workers for 2021 and beyond. So, even if you weren’t eligible for the credit in previous years, make sure you check it out this year because you may qualify now. For 2021 tax returns, the maximum EITC ranges from $ 1,502 to $ 6,728 depending on your income and how many children you have. indeed, it ‘s well worth the time it takes to complete a tax form if you qualify for the credit. The income limits to qualify for the EITC are fairly low. For case, if you do n’t have kids, you can qualify if your 2021 earn income and adjusted crude income ( AGI ) are each less than $ 21,430 for singles and $ 27,380 for joint filers. If you have three or more children and are married, though, your 2021 earn income and AGI can be a senior high school as $ 57,414. Plus, you can use your earned income from 2019 to determine the EITC for the 2021 tax class if it results in a higher credit sum. There are many exceptions and other rules, but the IRS has a handy on-line tool to help you figure out if you ‘re eligible for the credit .Skip advert

Child Tax Credit

picture of mother watch one child playfully smashing a cupcake into another child's faceSkip advert There are a draw of irregular enhancements to the child tax citation for the 2021 tax year ( and only for the 2021 tax year ). The credit amounts are higher, more children qualify, and it’s fully refundable on your 2021 tax return. Generally, parents with children 17 years previous or younger may qualify for the 2021 child tax credit rating. The utmost citation total is $ 3,000 for each child old age 6 to 17, and $ 3,600 for each child 5 years erstwhile and younger. so, like the EITC, you could end up with a nice refund check by filing a refund just to claim this accredit. however, if you received any monthly child tax credit payments from July to December death class, you must subtract the total come of those payments from the credit sum you ‘re entitled to claim on your 2021 render. That ‘s because those monthly payments were plainly boost payments of the 2021 accredit. ( Use our 2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator to see how much you should have received in monthly payments final year and how much you should have left to claim on your 2021 tax tax return. ) For all the details about the 2021 credit, see Child Tax Credit FAQs for Your 2021 Tax Return. not surely if you qualify for the credit ? The IRS has an on-line joyride to help with that. But note that you might be able to claim a different tax recognition for your dependents if you do n’t qualify for the child tax citation. There’s something called the “credit for other dependents,” and it’s worth up to $500 for each qualifying dependent. It ‘s a nonrefundable credit, though. so, it wo n’t trigger a refund if you otherwise do n’t owe any tax.

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Child and Dependent Care Credit

picture of preschool teacher clapping with childrenSkip advert As with the child tax credit, there were several enhancements made to the child and dependent care tax recognition that lone apply for the 2021 tax year – including making the credit refundable for people who live in the U.S. for more than half of the year, which means you decidedly want to file a 2021 tax reappearance if you qualify for the credit. The credit helps people who work, are looking for work, or attending school pay for the care of children under 13 or certain other people who can’t care for themselves. In addition to being refundable, credit amounts will be higher and more people will qualify for the credit on their 2021 tax returns. For the 2021 tax class, you ‘re eligible for a 20 % to 50 % credit for up to $ 8,000 in care expenses for one child or other qualifying person or up to $ 16,000 in expenses for two or more. There are income limits, though. You ‘re eligible for the broad credit if your AGI does n’t exceed $ 125,000. The percentage is gradually reduced from 50 % to 20 % if your AGI is between $ 125,001 and $ 183,000. It stays at 20 % if your AGI is from $ 183,001 to $ 400,000, but then it ‘s gradually reduced again from 20 % to 0 % if your AGI is between $ 400,001 and $ 438,000. You ca n’t claim the credit if you make over $ 438,000. For more information on the 2021 accredit, see Your Child Care Tax Credit May Be Bigger on Your 2021 Tax Return .Skip advert

Recovery Rebate Credit

picture of man holding sign saying "Stimulus Checks"Skip advert If you did n’t get a third stimulation check, or you did n’t get the full amount, you may be able to get paid now by claiming the convalescence rebate credit rating on your 2021 tax come back. The third-round stimulation checks ( including “ plus-up ” payments ) were actually good advance payments of the credit. So, if you didn’t get the money earlier, you should get it now (assuming you’re eligible). You ‘re generally eligible to claim the convalescence rebate citation on your 2021 return if, in 2021, you :

  • Were a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien;
  • Can’t be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return; and
  • Have a Social Security number valid for employment that’s issued before the due date of your 2021 tax return (including extensions).

calculation of the recovery rebate credit is generally the lapp as the calculation for the one-third round of stimulation checks, except that the credit is based on information from different sources. The third-round stimulation checks were typically based on information from either your 2019 or 2020 tax come back, whichever was most recently filed when the IRS began processing your payment ( use Kiplinger ‘s Third Stimulus Check Calculator to see how much you should have gotten ). however, the amount of your recovery rebate credit is based on information found on your 2021 tax fall. For more information, see What ‘s the Recovery Rebate Credit ?Skip advert

American Opportunity Tax Credit

picture of four college students hanging out on some stepsSkip advert The American Opportunity citation covers expenses for students who are in their beginning four years of college. The credit is worth up to $ 2,500 per eligible student, and it can be claimed by a rear, spouse or student who is not claimed as a subject for tuition, fees, or textbooks. The credit is partially refundable. indeed, if the credit is worth more than your tax liability for the year, you ‘ll get a refund check for 40 % of the remaining sum – up $ 1,000 for each qualifying scholar. That should be adequate to get you to complete a tax hark back if you do n’t differently have to file one. As with the EITC and child tax recognition, the IRS has an on-line creature to help you figure out if you ‘re eligible for the American Opportunity credit. It will besides help you determine if you can claim the non-refundable Lifetime Learning accredit, which is available for an inexhaustible number of years .Skip advert

bounty Tax accredit

picture of a magnifying glass over a book about ObamaCareSkip advert The premium tax citation helps people pay for policy they buy through the health indemnity market ( i.e., Obamacare ). normally, the credit is available for people with family incomes ranging from 100 % to 400 % of the federal poverty charge. however, for the 2021 and 2022 tax years, people with a family income that exceeds 400 % of the federal poverty line for their class size may silent claim the citation. The amount of the premium tax citation is based on a sliding scale, so that people with a lower income get a larger credit. An estimated credit is calculated when you go on a marketplace web site such as healthcare.gov to buy insurance. At that point, you can choose to have the credit paid in progress immediately to the insurance company to lower your monthly payments, or you can choose to get all the benefit of the recognition when you file your tax reelect for the class. If you elect to have improvement bounty tax credit ( APTC ) payments made to the insurance company, you must file a tax return and reconcile the sum paid in boost with the actual credit you compute when you file your render. Either way, you ‘ll need to complete Form 8962 and attach it to your tax reelect. The bounty tax credit is another refundable credit. thus, if the sum of the credit is more than the amount of the tax you owe, you ‘ll receive the difference as a refund if you file a tax restitution. If you owe no tax, you can get the full total of the credit as a refund. however, if your actual allowable credit is less than your APTC payments, the difference is normally subtracted from your refund or added to the tax you owe. Be warned, though, that the IRS typically looks for people who receive advance credits and either do n’t file returns or file returns incorrectly reporting the credit. so, monkeying around with the premium tax credit rating is a good way to get your hark back audited .Skip advert

Health Coverage Tax Credit

picture of a stethoscope on money Skip advert The health coverage tax credit helps certain displace workers and pre-retirees pay up for health policy. specifically, it is available to ( 1 ) people eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance allowances because of a qualifying job passing, and ( 2 ) people between 55 and 64 years old whose pension plans were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The credit is worth up to 72.5 % of payments for modify health insurance coverage. As with the other credits we ‘ve mentioned, the health coverage citation is refundable. so, if you can claim the citation, you’ll want to file a tax return just to claim the credit, even if you’re not required to file a return. By doing indeed, you can get a federal income tax refund check sent to you. As with the premiums tax credit, the health coverage credit can be paid in progress. If you received advance payments last class, you must file a 2021 tax come back. That besides means that your refund will be smaller ( or eliminated ) if the advance credit payments are greater than your actual allowable credit. besides note that the health coverage credit expired at the end of 2021, so you wo n’t be able to claim it next year when you file your 2022 tax return .Skip advert

Credits for Sick and Family Leave

picture of sick woman in bed taking her temperatureSkip advert many employers provided paid brainsick and kin leave in 2021 for workers affected by COVID-19. however, to shift most of the fiscal load for paid leave off the employer ‘s back, tax credits were besides made available to reimburse employers for some of the cost of leave taken through September 30, 2021. Self-employed people who couldn’t work because of certain COVID-related circumstances got similar refundable tax credits, too. The credits are broadly equivalent to the amount of qualify brainsick or family leave wages the freelance person would have received if he or she were an employee. To be eligible for the 2021 self-employment credits, you must have regularly carried on a trade or business during the year and been eligible to receive sick or family leave wages if you had been an employee of an employer ( other than yourself ). The nauseated and family leave credits are different depending on whether the leave was taken ahead or after April 1, 2021. complete form 7202 to calculate the credit amounts. People who paid household employment taxes might also be able to claim refundable credits for a portion of any sick or family leave wages they paid that were related to COVID-19. The 2021 credit amounts are shown on Schedule H, Lines 8e and 8f. As with the other refundable credits discussed, the credits for nauseated and family leave can lower your tax placard or even result in a tax refund. then, make certain you claim them tied if you are n’t required to file a 2021 tax return .Skip advert

accredit for Federal Fuel Taxes

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The federal politics taxes most fuel purchases ( for example, 18.4¢ per gallon tax on gasoline ). But some people can claim a credit on their tax return if they burn the fuel during certain non-taxable activities. This accredit is typically claimed by businesses, but some individuals can claim it excessively if they qualify. For exercise, farmers and fishermen can claim the credit if they ‘re the ultimate buyer of gasoline used on a farm for farming purposes or in a gravy boat engaged in commercial fish. The accredit is refundable, so you ‘ll surely want to file a tax return if you qualify for the recognition. You must fill out Form 4136 to calculate the credit total, and then attached the human body to your return .