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Have a dependent child who works? They may not have to file a tax return

Posted on 01/14/20

Did you know that your dependent child may not to have to file a tax return if he or she meets certain criteria? The IRS has come out with the 2019 filing requirements and depending on your dependent child’s marital status, age, and income characteristics, they may not have to file a return for 2019.

If your dependent child is single, under the age of 65, has less than $1,100 of unearned income (ex. interest, dividend, investment income), less than $12,200 of earned income (ex. wages), and their gross income wasn’t more than the larger of $1,100 or earned income (up to $11,850) plus $350, then no tax return needs to be filed.

If your dependent child meets these criteria, they do not have to file, but what if they had taxes withheld in 2019, what happens then?  In order to get the withholding back, a return will need to be filed.  Yes, they would need to file to get that withholding refunded this year, but there is a way to avoid having to do so next year. If your dependent child will continue to be your dependent, their income is still below the threshold, they just need to complete their W-4 differently.  If they had no tax liability in 2019 (got all taxes withheld refunded) and they expect (based on information above) to owe no taxes in 2020, all they would have to do is update their W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) to have no income taxes withheld from their paycheck. If your dependent child meets the exemption requirements, you will simply write “Exempt” on Form W-4 in the space below Step 4(c).  Then, complete Steps 1a, 1b, and 5. Do not complete any other steps.

When it comes time to file in the following year, simply make sure the dependent child is still under the income thresholds for the applicable tax year and no return will have to be filed, nor will any withholding have to be refunded. This could result in a time and tax preparation savings for both parents and their working children!

If you have tax preparation questions or would like more information on tax laws for working dependent children, contact the Tax Team at Kerkering Barberio at 941-365-4617.

About the Author

Michael Kelley

Kerkering, Barberio & Co.
1990 Main St., Suite 801
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 365-4617

Mr. Kelley is a staff account and his primary area of practice is on Individual and Business Taxation.


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