Should your child file taxes this year?


(NEXSTAR) – Tax Day is just days away and while there has been much talk about how your dependent children can help with your tax refund, they may need your help to get their own money back.

A child can be claimed as a dependent if they have been under the age of 19 for the entire tax year (or 24 if they are a full-time student), have lived with you for more than half of 2021, and you provide for something more than half of their financial support.

The dependent children who had a job in 2021 may still have to file their own taxes, although you can claim them. Once your child has earned $12,550 in income, your child will need to file a tax return, according to Jackson Hewitt Tax Services chief tax information officer Mark Steber.

“If they had a job — big job, small job, new job, doesn’t matter — if there was tax withholding, they can’t get that money back unless they file a tax return,” Steber told Nexstar. “And if your kid worked over the summer and made $1,000 or $5,000 or whatever the number, they probably have a tax withholding and that tax withholding, federal and state, they can’t get that money back unless they hand one a tax return.”

The same goes for any of your dependents who are in college, said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert at TurboTax.

“Yearly, [the IRS] Reports of over a billion dollars in unclaimed refunds, and much of that belongs to college students who don’t think they should claim,” she explained.

If your child receives income from sources other than a job, such as interest, dividends, and other unearned income, the filing rules change. Once the total of that income your child received in 2021 exceeds $2,200, they may be subject to a specific tax according to the IRS.

If the only income your child had in 2021 is interest and dividend income and the total is less than $11,000, you may be able to include that income in your return instead of filing a separate return.

If you’re unsure whether your child should file their own tax return, both Steber and Greene-Lewis recommend speaking to a tax expert.


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