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Do You Need to File a Tax Return?

Possibly not, but here are five reasons you may want to

Editor’s note: This content is provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Consult your financial or tax adviser regarding your individual situation.

You are required to file a federal income tax return if your income is above a certain level, which varies depending on your filing status, age and the type of income you receive.

However, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that some people should file even if they aren't required to, because they may get a refund if they had taxes withheld or they may qualify for refundable credits.

To find out if you need to file, check the Individuals section of the IRS website at or consult the instructions for Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for specific details that may help you determine if you need to file a tax return with the IRS this year. You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

Even if you don’t have to file a return, here are five reasons why you may want to:

  1. Federal Income Tax Withheld: You should file to get money back if your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, you made estimated tax payments, or had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax.

  2. Earned Income Tax Credit: You may qualify for EITC if you worked, but did not earn a lot of money. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means you could qualify for a tax refund. To get the credit you must file a return and claim it.

  3. Additional Child Tax Credit: This refundable 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.

  4. Education Credits: There are two credits available, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, for people who pay higher education costs. The American Opportunity Credit is for the first four years of tuition and related expenses for a student for whom the taxpayer claims as an exemption. The Lifetime Learning Credit is available for all post-secondary education for an unlimited number of years. A taxpayer cannot claim both credits for the same student in one year.

  5. Health Coverage Tax Credit: Certain individuals who are receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Eligible individuals can claim a significant portion of their payments made for qualified health insurance premiums.

For more information about filing requirements and your eligibility to receive tax credits, visit

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