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.
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.