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My daughter is still fully a dependent for my tax returns. However, my employer gave her a part-time side job as a normal employee and gave her a W2. She earned a little over $2100 and has no other income. The IRS says she only needs to file if she earned more than $3100.

Her taxed withholding amount was about $25 (does not include Medicare or SSA deductions, obviously). Should I file a tax return for her and see if she gets the $25 back? Are there any hidden downsides to doing that?

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    So long as she does not declare herself as a self-dependent, there is no downside to you. If she does do so (which would be stupid with only $2100 income over the course of a year), there would be a downside for you as the two of you cannot both declare her as a dependent. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 18:03
  • “Not above” is the same as “at or below”, and less clear (needs more thinking to understand).
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 22:25
  • Wouldn't she be filing her tax return, not you? I'm 16, and I filed my own tax return last year (when I was 15) and am going to do so this year as well. My parents aren't involved at all other than me asking them questions about how to use the H&R Block software. I print the returns and sign and mail them myself. I probably could e-file, but it isn't worth the fee.
    – Someone
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 16:47

3 Answers 3

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The number that the IRS mentions is the number where you are required to file.

You also will want to file, if you want that money refunded.

Because your child has earned income, they can put money into a Traditional or Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, the person pays tax on the earnings now, but can pull the money out tax free when they retire. Because your child made so little money, their tax rate is zero.

Note that the custodian will submit a form to the IRS in the May 2023 time period listing the 2022 contribution. It is possible that if your child didn't submit a 1040 form, the IRS may come looking for more information. It is also possible that the information on the W-2 sent to the IRS from the employer is enough to prove the ability to contribute to the Roth IRA.

Don't forget about state taxes, if you live in a state that taxes income, and state tax was withheld.

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    Putting aside the Roth, is it worth your while to get the $25 back? This is an emphatic yes, because your daughter will learn how to fill out a tax form.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 13:18
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    Have her fill out the 1040EZ. It's a life skill worth learning.
    – NA Slacker
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 14:54
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    @NASlacker The 1040EZ was ended with the 2017 tax code changes. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 15:24
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    These comments are amusing, and cautionary. Only on the internet, can multiple people recommend filing forms that haven't existing for half a decade, and then have their incorrect recommendations upvoted. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 9:59
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    Just goes to show how long it's been since I tried to do 1040EZ. It was the 90's the last time I needed that form.
    – NA Slacker
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 19:03
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The standard deduction for 2022 is $12950 for someone who is single or married and filing separately. There is a special rule regarding dependents:

If you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, your standard deduction for 2022 is limited to the greater of: (1) $1,150, or (2) your earned income plus $400 (but the total can't be more than the basic standard deduction for your filing status).

At $2100 income for the past year, she'll get all of the collected taxes back (except of course SSA & Medicare). At minimum wage, that $25 represents about three hours of work. Filling out the federal and state income tax forms might take three hours for a first timer, even for a very simple return. Make her work those three hours to fill out the forms and learn about the wonderful nuances of tax law (and learn to swear at them on an annual basis). It will be a unique educational experience.

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In addition to the monetary reasons for filing, there is an additional benefit to filing now: it will simplify filing in future years, so long as she files each year. E-filing is much simpler when the past year's taxes were filed and some AGI is reported. When filing for my children, the first year was always the hardest - after that first year it became easy.

In particular, if you are hoping to have her file in the future on her own behalf, it will help make that simpler if she files (or you file for her) this year, even for only $25 back.

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