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Publication 554

Chapter 1
2017 Filing Requirements(p4)

If income tax was withheld from your pay, or if you qualify for a refundable credit (such as the earned income credit, the additional child tax credit, or the American opportunity credit), you should file a return to get a refund even if you aren't otherwise required to file a return.
Don't file a federal income tax return if you don't meet the filing requirements and aren't due a refund. If you need assistance to determine if you need to file a federal income tax return for 2017, go to and use the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA). You also can find the ITA by going to and entering "interactive tax assistant" in the search box. Open the ITA and click on Do I Need to File a Tax Return under Topics by Category.

General Requirements(p4)

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you must file a return if your gross income for the year was at least the amount shown on the appropriate line in Table 1-1. For other filing requirements, see your tax return instructions or Pub. 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. If you were a nonresident alien at any time during the year, the filing requirements that apply to you may be different from those that apply to U.S. citizens. See Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

Table 1-1.  2017 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

Note. You must file a return if your gross income was at least the amount shown in the last column.

IF your filing status is. . .AND at the end of 2017
you were*. . .
THEN file a return if your gross income** was at least. . .
Singleunder 65$10,400
65 or older$11,950
Head of householdunder 65$13,400
65 or older$14,950
Married filing jointly***under 65 (both spouses)$20,800
65 or older (one spouse)$22,050
65 or older (both spouses)$23,300
Married filing separatelyany age (if your spouse itemizes deductions)$ 4,050
Qualifying widow(er)
under 65$16,750
65 or older$18,000
*If you were born before January 2, 1953, you are considered to be 65 or older at the end of 2017. (If your spouse died in 2017 or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2017, see Pub. 501.)
**Gross income means all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). It also includes gains, but not losses, reported on Form 8949 or Schedule D. Gross income from a business means, for example, the amount on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9. But, in figuring gross income, don't reduce your income by any losses, including any loss on Schedule C, line 7, or Schedule F, line 9. Don't include any social security benefits unless (a) you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2017 or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the Instructions for Form 1040 or Pub. 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income.
***If you didn't live with your spouse at the end of 2017 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $4,050, you must file a return regardless of your age.

Gross income.(p4)

Gross income is all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax. If you are married and live with your spouse in a community property state, half of any income defined by state law as community income may be considered yours. States with community property laws include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. A registered domestic partner in Nevada, Washington, or California generally must report half the combined community income of the individual and his or her domestic partner. For more information about community property, see Pub. 555, Community Property.
For more information on what to include in gross income, see chapter 2.
Self-employed persons.(p5)
If you are self-employed in a business that provides services (where the production, purchase, or sale of merchandise isn't an income-producing factor), gross income from that business is the gross receipts. If you are self-employed in a business involving manufacturing, merchandising, or mining, gross income from that business is the total sales minus the cost of goods sold. In either case, you must add any income from investments and from incidental or outside operations or sources. See Pub. 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information.


If you could be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer (that is, you meet the dependency tests in Pub. 501), special filing requirements apply. See Pub. 501.


A personal representative of a decedent's estate can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the decedent's property.
If you are acting as the personal representative of a person who died during the year, you may have to file a final return for that decedent. You also have other duties, such as notifying the IRS that you are acting as the personal representative. Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, is available for this purpose.
When you file a return for the decedent, either as the personal representative or as the surviving spouse, you should write "DECEASED," the decedent's name, and the date of death across the top of the tax return.
If no personal representative has been appointed by the due date for filing the return, the surviving spouse (on a joint return) should sign the return and write in the signature area "Filing as surviving spouse."
For more information, see Pub. 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.

Surviving spouse.(p5)

If you are the surviving spouse, the year your spouse died is the last year for which you can file a joint return with that spouse. After that, if you don't remarry, you must file as a qualifying widow(er), head of household, or single. For more information about each of these filing statuses, see Pub. 501.
If you remarry before the end of the year in which your spouse died, a final joint return with the deceased spouse can't be filed. You can, however, file a joint return with your new spouse. In that case, the filing status of your deceased spouse for his or her final return is married filing separately.
The level of income that requires you to file an income tax return changes when your filing status changes (see Table 1-1). Even if you and your deceased spouse weren't required to file a return for several years, you may have to file a return for tax years after the year of death. For example, if your filing status changes from filing jointly in 2016 to single in 2017 because of the death of your spouse, and your gross income is $17,500 for both years, you must file a return for 2017 even though you didn't have to file a return for 2016.