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I am a 17 year old student that is filed as a dependent by my mother. This past summer, I had a paid internship where I had to pay FICA taxes alongside some state taxes. I believe I can get taxes paid refunded because I am a student and under 18. Overall, I made around $4,400 (including taxes paid) over the course of the internship. I was wondering if someone could tell me what I need to file this upcoming tax season noting that I am still listed as a dependent by my parents. Thanks.

  • 2
    Did you have any federal income tax withheld (not state, not FICA)? Which state are you in? – Ben Miller Nov 29 '18 at 16:05
  • Besides your internship, did you have any other income (investments, interest income, etc.)? – Ben Miller Nov 29 '18 at 16:08
  • Will you turn 18 in 2018 or 2019? – Hart CO Nov 29 '18 at 17:08
  • @BenMiller I did not have any income except my internship, Hart CO 2019 – Rob Gates Nov 29 '18 at 21:14
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    StdCorrection: tax return is the form(s) you file with data about your income, expenses and status, from which you compute your income tax liability; refund is the money you get back if your withholding and/or estimated payments exceed your liability. Or, as Ben notes, if you qualify for certain 'refundable' credits they can effectively reduce liability below zero and you can get a 'refund' of more than you paid. That's all for income tax; for FICA you file no return, you only pay (the employer files 941 or 944 and W-2 plus W-3 if paper). – dave_thompson_085 Nov 30 '18 at 14:55
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There are two separate questions you need to ask yourself: "Am I required to file?" and "Should I file?"

Am I required to file?

The requirements for filing, from the latest draft of the 2018 Form 1040 instructions, for a dependent that is single, under age 65, and not blind:

You must file a return if any of the following apply.

  • Your unearned income was over $1,050.

  • Your earned income was over $12,000.

  • Your gross income was more than the larger of—

    • $1,050, or
    • Your earned income (up to $11,650) plus $350.

Your earned income from your job is well under $12,000, so as long as your unearned income (from investments) is less than $350, you are not required to file a federal tax return.

A quick look at the filing requirements for Massachusetts suggests that you won't be required to file a state tax return for 2018, either.

Should I file?

Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may file anyway if it is advantageous to you. In general, you would file a return if you expect a refund, and you would not file a return if doing so would result in you having to pay in additional tax.

FICA is not refundable, but if you had any federal income tax withheld, you should probably file, as you would most likely be getting back most if not all of the tax that was withheld. If you didn't have any federal income tax withheld, you probably don't need to file (unless there is a refundable tax credit that you qualify for, such as the American Opportunity Credit for college students).

For your state, if you are not required to file, you'll need to determine if you are due a refund from the state to decide whether or not to file there.

  • I'll have to check my state laws and other federal taxes, but are you saying FICA taxes even as a student/minor cannot be refunded? Also, do you have a resource I can look at to see if a type of tax is refundable? – Rob Gates Nov 29 '18 at 21:17
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    @RobGates Yes, I am saying that in general, FICA taxes are not refundable on your tax return. There is a FICA exemption for students that are employed by the school they attend, and usually the school knows about this and FICA doesn't get deducted from your paycheck in that case. But if you had an internship with a private company, you are subject to FICA, as is almost every worker in this country. – Ben Miller Nov 30 '18 at 4:21
  • @RobGates I'm not sure what you are asking in the second sentence in your comment. Are you asking about refundable taxes, or refundable tax credits? – Ben Miller Nov 30 '18 at 4:21
  • in general I was asking if I can get money back because I paid FICA taxes – Rob Gates Nov 30 '18 at 22:04
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    @RobGates Unless you qualify for the Student FICA Exception (on-campus job at your university) or if you are in the country on an F1 Visa, you can't get your FICA taxes back. Sorry. – Ben Miller Nov 30 '18 at 22:15

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