To File or Not to File a Tax Return - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

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To File or Not to File a Tax Return

DALLAS - You must file a tax return if your income is above a certain level. The amount varies depending on filing status, age and the type of income you receive.

For example, a married couple both under age 65 generally is not required to file until their joint income reaches $17,900. However, self-employed individuals generally must file a tax return if their net income from self employment was at least $400.

Check the "Individuals" section of the IRS Web site at or consult the instructions for form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ for specific details that may affect your need to file a tax return with IRS this year.

"Even if you don't have to file,  there are several reasons why you may want to file," said Clay Sanford, IRS spokesman in Dallas. "Probably the first reason is to get money back if Federal Income Tax was withheld from your pay."

Here are five other good reasons:

Recovery Rebate Credit. If you did not qualify or did not receive the maximum amount for the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payment, you may be entitled to a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2008 tax return.

Earned Income Tax Credit. You may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, if you worked, but did not earn a lot of money.  EITC is a refundable tax credit meaning you could qualify for a tax refund.

Additional Child Tax Credit. This credit may be available to you if you have at least one qualifying child and you did not get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit.

First Time Homebuyer Credit. If you bought a main home after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009 and did not own a main home during the prior 3 years, you may be able to take this refundable credit.

Health Coverage Tax Credit.  Certain individuals, who are receiving certain Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance, or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may be eligible for a Health Coverage Tax Credit when you file your 2008 tax return.

 What Income is Taxable?

While most income you receive is generally considered taxable, there are some situations when certain types of income are partially taxed or not taxed at all.

Some common examples of items that are not included in your income are:

  • Adoption Expense Reimbursements for qualifying expenses
  • Child support payments
  • Gifts, bequests and inheritances
  • Workers' compensation benefits
  • Meals and Lodging for the convenience of your employer
  • Compensatory Damages awarded for physical injury or physical sickness
  • Welfare Benefits
  • Cash Rebates from a dealer or manufacturer
  • Economic Stimulus Payment received in 2008

Some income may be taxable under certain circumstance, but not taxable in other situations. Examples of items that may or may not be included in your income are:

  • Life Insurance. If you surrender a life insurance policy for cash, you must include in income any proceeds that are more than the cost of the life insurance policy. Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are not taxable unless the policy was turned over to you for a price.
  • Scholarship or Fellowship Grant. If you are a candidate for a degree, you can exclude amounts you receive as a qualified scholarship or fellowship. Amounts used for room and board do not qualify.
    All other items-including income such as wages, salaries and tips-must be included in your income, unless it is specifically excluded by law.
    Taxable income may be in a form other than cash. One example of this is bartering, which is an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged is fully taxable and must be included as income on Form 1040 of both parties.

These examples are not all-inclusive. For more information, visit the IRS Web site at to view or download Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income from the Forms and Publications section or call 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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