I live in Seattle and turn 18 before the year's end, and I'm told my family has an income such that if I get a job and make more than $1000, then I would push my family into a higher tax bracket.

Because of this – according to my parents – our health insurance would no longer cover my braces and the family would all of a sudden have to pay $3000 to $4000 for my braces, which I would have to pay because this would be caused by my job.

I don't think that my salary at minimum wage would be enough to cover the insurance, given that I would probably only have the job over this summer. What options do I have?

Edit: The #1 reason I want a job is to have spending money.

Edit 2: We are in the upper-middle class.

  • 40
    Why would you have to file with your family? Cant you file as an individual return if you are 18 and working
    – Vality
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 19:33
  • 84
    @Jodast that's not how it works. You make money, you file a tax return. There is no "family income" beyond married filing jointly.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 19:36
  • 16
    What insurance do you currently have? Insurance generally isn't tied to taxes so it's a bit odd to connect them. And a child's income generally doesn't flow to the parents. If your insurance is through some sort of government welfare program, I could envision some sort of income qualification that might involve adding the income of all adults in the household so perhaps the concern isn't with the tax bracket but with the income threshold for the insurance subsidy. Of course, welfare programs generally aren't providing coverage for braces... Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 19:46
  • 16
    Sounds like your parents are trying to trick you into paying for your braces.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:11
  • 43
    @void_ptr if the parents are trying to trick OP into anything, it's into not getting a job.
    – stannius
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:15

4 Answers 4


The tax return of a dependent does not flow to the parents return. Earned income is taxed at your own rate, up to $12,000 tax free. for your own standard deduction, but unearned income is taxed at higher trust rates. No idea where they are getting this information from.

If your parents' insurance is somehow tied to "family income," things change. It's still not an issue of marginal rates or even taxes, it's an issue of the rules regarding their insurance coverage. Outside my area of knowledge, but they should be more open to explain these details to you.

  • 27
    Strictly for tax purposes, yes. I did my 20 year old's taxes. No part of it flowed to mine in any way, or mine to her's. So the answer is that your taxes doesn't affect the parents' marginal rate, or taxes. If they are on an insurance plan that takes familiy income into account, the result may be different. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:33
  • 1
    @JoeTaxpayer It may be a bit different for your parents if you're still listed as a dependent for them (you don't want to claim yourself as independent and them do so as well), but that doesn't affect income. Keep in mind, if you make less than $12,200 (2019) then you don't need to file at all. If you do file (for other benefits like the EITC), it would still have no effect on their return or taxes.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:47
  • 3
    Fair enough, but the tax return says "can anyone claim you as a dependent"? And of course, it's yes. Either way. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:49
  • 3
    @JoeTaxpayer True enough. Also, if they don't file taxes, they aren't considered a part of household income for social programs.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:52
  • 2
    OP also mentions health insurance (the 3-4k for health expenditures seem to be their main concern). Could OPs income potentially cause problems there? If this is at least theoretically possible, you might want to add a small footnote about that.
    – tim
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:52

To be clear, this has nothing to do with tax brackets. (There's a longstanding belief that getting into a higher income bracket will increase taxes on all your income, when that bracket just applies to your new income.) Instead, this has to do with eligibility to (I believe) Apple Health, which is Washington's low-income health insurance program. This pdf has the eligibility requirements by household size, and they are pretty tight. I doubt there's any way that your income can avoid being counted against household income while also being covered under this program. I think after you turn 18, you could declare yourself to no longer be part of their household, but then your family might get kicked out because their family size shrinks, so watch out for that. (I'm not sure how optional this would be anyway.) I would recommend not doing anything to increase your family income until your braces (and any other expensive medical work) are completed.

EDIT: Just saw the note that your family is upper-middle class. This means that the most likely circumstance is that they're pushing up against the limit before the federal government stops subsidizing health insurance. This depends on family size, but for a 3-person family, that would be roughly $80,000/year, or $100,000/year for a 4-person family. There's a severe cliff after this point, so crossing that point would not be recommended without thought. However, Anoplexian noted that there's a $12,000 limit in earnings before your income counts toward this number, so as long as you stay below that threshold you should be fine.

EDIT2: is the "make more than $1000" per month? If so, that matches the $12,000/year figure I gave. You'll have trouble hitting that anyway for a summer job. There's not much standing in your way then.

  • 23
    Yes - I think everyone is caught up in 'tax' aspect of this question. There are social benefit type programs that count 'household income' in such a way that a child who is over the age of 18's income would be included.
    – Rob P.
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:35
  • 6
    @RobP. The problem with what you said is that it simply isn't true. If they make less than $12,200 in the calendar year, programs won't count them as household income unless they file income tax.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:50
  • 9
    And the OP believes the family to be in the "upper middle" income bracket, which, by standard definitions, would put them above the cutoff for the Apple plans in the brochure. So this really doesn't add up.
    – CCTO
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 20:54
  • 2
    @CCTO No, he said they live in a "fairly affluent neighborhood". They could have found a relatively inexpensive house, or just have most of their income going to the mortgage to be in that neighbor or school district. And/or be doing some creative accounting.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 21:42
  • 4
    @Jodast your parents probably don't make as much money as you're assuming (or they're leading you to believe).
    – Kat
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 16:49

I feel like it's worth talking about the "tax bracket" part of this question, as it's a common misconception.

Let's suppose we're dealing with a simple tax system with two brackets: 20% up to $100,000 a year, and 25% above that.

Now let's say I make $98,000 a year and I'm taxed at 20%. That means I pay $19,600 a year in taxes.

Now suppose that I get a $5000 raise. Now I'm making $103,000 a year. Does that mean that at that 25% rate, now I'm paying $25,750 in taxes? Has a $5000 raise turned into a $6150 increase in my tax bill!? Should I turn down the raise!?

No. That's not how tax brackets work.

The 25% rate only applies to the amount of my income that's over $100,000. I'm not paying 25% on $100,000. I'm paying 25% on $3000.

The math works like this:

$100,000 x 20% = $20,000
$  3,000 x 25% = $   750
Total tax bill:  $20,750

Total increase:  $ 1,150

So my extra $5000 in income gives me an increase of $1150 on my tax bill. Keep the raise!

  • 3
    OTOH, in a hypothetical world where the OP's summer job might increase the family taxes like this, it would not be unreasonable for the family to expect him to cover the $1,150 of taxes from the money he has earned. ... and there are lots of examples from around the world where the marginal rate of tax can exceed 100% (you are worse off accepting the rise), because means-tested benefits are withdrawn too fast. Commented May 2, 2019 at 13:11

Your parents are concerned that an increase of your household income will make your family ineligible for healthcare insurance subsidy. It has nothing to do with their tax bracket but it's understandable that they've confused the two.

I found an online calculator that helps you estimate the subsidy your family would receive based on income and other factors: https://www.kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

You can use it to "game" different scenarios.

I don't know how "steep of a cliff" there is but it's possible that your earnings will not push you completely off and you and your family might still be better off if you worked.

Another option is to look into filling on your own. That's more complicated because it will cause your parents to pay higher tax because they won't be able to use your deduction, but on the other hand you'll get tax deduction and might be eligible for other tax credits. Again, using the calculator will help you see how such a move will affect your family's situation. In this case it's probably a good idea to talk to a tax professional.

Finally, your parents could seek employer based insurance coverage. Since your indicated your family is upper-middle class, it's possible the subsidy you are receiving is not that large anyway. You might qualify for subsidy on your own and your family might be able to get lower premium insurance for themselves from their employer. It's probably not very likely this is the case, but if that's a viable option, it will remove the subsidy consideration and you can make as much money as you want.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .