When a Child Should File a Return You might assume that a young person doesn’t have to file a tax return until he or she has reached adulthood, moved out of the family home, and is generally self-supporting. Yet IRS rules regarding who must file are based on the amount and source of income rather than age. Source: Internal Revenue Service, 2023 Here are the general filing requirements affecting dependents—meaning someone else pays more than half of their support (including tuition, room, and board)— such as teens and college students, as well as their parents. Generally, a tax return must be filed if an individual has earned income above the standard deduction ($14,600 in 2024), unearned income from interest or dividends above $1,300, or a combination of earned and unearned income totaling more than $1,300 with at least $450 unearned. The filing threshold for net self-employment income is $400. In the past, a dependent’s unearned income had to be reported on a parent’s tax return. In 2024, a dependent’s unearned income above $2,600 is taxed at the parents’ tax rates, which range from 10% to 37%. Many young workers who earn less than the filing threshold will want to file if they had income tax withheld from pay and are eligible for a tax refund.